REFORM is on the agenda for Australia’s agvet chemical regulator, with an independent review recommending several performance improvement measures .
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) chief executive Dr Chris Parker accepted the recommendations of the report.
Key recommendations include measures to improve the agency’s use legislative instruments, quicker rejections of poor quality submissions, improve management of backlogs and delegate sign-off of decisions to assessment teams.
The review said APVMA could increase its fees to improve its performance.
“If necessary change fees and levies to reflect the increasing complexity of assessments and the associated additional effort and expertise,” the report said.
It noted a vast difference in the quality, and time required to process, in applications from small and large entities.
It recommended that APVMA “use current legislation to its full by rejecting poor quality applications early” to speed up the assessment process.
“The review confirms the fluctuations and volatility in our workload, and that the range in quality and complexity of applications we receive makes it difficult to meet the legislated performance measure of 100 per cent on-time assessments,” Dr Parker said.
“What’s clear from the review is that there is no silver bullet. There are multiple factors contributing to delays in the assessment of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals in Australia and these factors must be addressed through a considered and coordinated program of reform.”
The report noted the APVMA’s 69pc success rate for assessing applications to register agvet chemical products within the timeframe of 30 to 750 days.
APVMA’s statutory requirement is to assess 100pc of applications within the timeframe.
Agchem peak industry body CropLife recently welcomed APVMA’s December quarterly report, which showed crop protection product registrations had risen to 72pc of assessments completed on time, up from 36pc in the September quarter.
However, CropLife chief executive Matthew Cossey said reforms were needed to improve regulatory processes.
“It is now more important than ever that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources deliver targeted reforms that will free the APVMA from unnecessary and out-dated regulatory processes, helping the regulator to fully meet their statutory obligation of finalising 100pc of application types within timeframe,” Mr Cossey said.
The APVMA has been the focus of ongoing controversy, following former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s decision to move the agency from Canberra to Armidale, in his New England electorate.
Late last year the Department confirmed it aimed to have 150 staff working from Armidale, while a “small number” of specialist scientific staff could work from a remote location.