Appendix D:Freedom of Information

This reporting period saw the introduction of the reforms to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) from 1 November 2010 and the commencement of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) from 1 May 2011. The pre–1 May s8 reporting under the FOI Act required each Australian Government agency subject to the Act to publish information on its organisation, functions and powers and on arrangements for public involvement in the formulation of agency policy or administration of any enactment or scheme. This statement, together with the information contained in this report, is intended to meet the requirements of the FOI Act up to 1 May 2010. The IPS requirements, which commenced on 1 May 2011, have now replaced the s8 reporting regime. The APVMA’s IPS entry can be found at our website.

Requests for information under the FOI Act in 2010–11

The APVMA received 89 requests for information under the FOI Act during 2010–11. This is 69 more requests than were received in the 2009–10 reporting period.

Figure D-1: Requests under the FOI Act

Figure D-1: Requests under the FOI Act

The requests for documents covered the following categories of information:

  • chemical analyses, trials and evaluations associated with products
  • information supporting specific product claims
  • research data
  • product formulation details, in circumstances where the formulation details are misplaced by the product owner or where a new product owner never received the information during transfer of the business from a previous product registrant
  • product formulator and sites of manufacture information—the applicants have been the current product registrant, competitor product owners, or a other applicants
  • various information submitted by a product registrant.

There has been no application fee for making an FOI request since 1 November 2010. The APVMA has observed a significant increase in the number of requests since that date.

The APVMA has implemented the IPS and continues to increase its voluntary publication of information to the APVMA website.

As part of its preparations for the IPS, the APVMA released a draft Agency Plan for public consultation. Favourable comments were received from interested stakeholders. The APVMA’s Agency Plan has been published to its website and forms part of its IPS entry.

Requests for access to documents under the FOI Act must be made in writing. Applicants can apply in the following ways:

  • on-line through the APVMA website
  • via the FOI email address: foi@apvma.gov.au
  • by writing to:
    FOI Coordinator
    Legal Program
    Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
    PO Box 6182
    Kingston ACT 2604

Guidance on making an FOI application is provided on the APVMA website at http://www.apvma.gov.au/about/foi/index.php.

The authority to make access request decisions is held widely across the organisation from General Counsel to the Program Managers of each section (SES to EL2 levels). However, in the interests of efficiencies, the primary responsibility for FOI decision making is with the Legal Program (SES and EL2).

Organisation and structure

During the reporting period, the APVMA operated under the direction of the CEO. Further details about the CEO and organisational structure are in Chapter 2, ‘Organisation Overview’.

The APVMA’s premises are situated in Canberra at:

18 Wormald Street
Symonston ACT 2609

Postal address:
PO Box 6182
Kingston ACT 2604

The APVMA’s functions and powers

The APVMA is responsible for assessing and registering pesticides and veterinary medicines proposed for supply and use in Australia and controls them up to the point of retail sale. The APVMA has functions and powers that are conferred upon it by the Administration Act, the Agvet Code and the Agvet Regulations, and by certain state and territory laws.

Functions

The APVMA’s functions are to:

  • assess the suitability for sale in Australia of active constituents for proposed or existing chemical products, registered chemical products and labels for containers for chemical products
  • provide information to the Australian Government and its agencies and the states and participating territories about approved active constituents for proposed or existing chemical products, registered chemical products and approved labels for such products, and to cooperate with those Australian government agencies on matters relating to the management and control of chemical products
  • keep records and statistics of approvals and registrations it has granted, and permits and licences it has issued under the Agvet Code
  • evaluate the effects of the use of chemical products in the states and participating territories
  • cooperate with the Australian Government and its agencies and the states and participating territories to facilitate a consistent approach to the assessment and control of chemicals
  • in cooperation with the Australian Government and its agencies and the states and participating territories, develop codes of practice, standards and guidelines for, and to recommend precautions to be taken in connection with, the manufacture, export, import, sale, handling, possession, storage, disposal and use of chemical products in the states and participating territories
  • collect, interpret, disseminate and publish information relating to chemical products and their use
  • encourage and facilitate the application and use of results of evaluation and testing of chemical products
  • exchange information relating to chemical products and their use with overseas and international bodies having functions similar to those of the APVMA
  • when requested by the Minister, or on its own initiative, report to or advise the Minister on any matter relating to chemical products or arising in the course of the performance of its functions
  • encourage and facilitate the introduction of uniform national procedures for controlling the use of pesticides and veterinary medicines
  • fund and cooperate in a program designed to ensure that active constituents for proposed or existing chemical products, registered chemical products and labels for containers for chemical products comply with the Agvet Code and the Agvet Regulations.

Powers

The APVMA has powers to do all that is necessary or convenient to be done in connection with the performance of its functions, which may include:

  • entering into contracts
  • acquiring, holding and disposing of real and personal property
  • occupying, using and controlling any land or building owned or held under lease by the Commonwealth of Australia, a state or a territory and made available for the purposes of the APVMA
  • making available to the public, either without charge or upon payment of a fee to the APVMA, manuals, reports, lists of requirements and other documents
  • doing anything incidental to any of its powers.

Ministerial powers

In accordance with section 10 of the Administration Act, the Australian Government Minister responsible for administering agricultural and veterinary medicines legislation may direct the APVMA in writing in relation to the functions or powers that have been conferred on it under applicable Commonwealth of Australia, state and territory laws. The APVMA must comply with any such direction. In this reporting period, no such direction was given.

Access to information

Website

Information on the APVMA’s structure, functions, powers and publications may be obtained from the APVMA’s website at http://www.apvma.gov.au.

Public registers

The APVMA maintains databases to store, manipulate and record product applications, to track submissions, and for product registration details, financial records, mailing lists and other information. Staff details and industry and stakeholder contact details are stored on databases. Access to the following public registers is possible by arrangement, by visiting the APVMA office during business hours, or through the APVMA’s website:

  • register of chemical products, known as the Public Chemicals Registration Information System, for information on numbers and approved uses of registered pesticides and veterinary medicines
  • Record of Permits
  • Record of Approved Active Constituents for Chemical Products.

Files and records

The APVMA maintains files on specific chemicals and on a range of topics relating to its operations and functions. Agreements, protocols, criteria and guidelines on the registration process and the development of technical data are also maintained. The APVMA also retains technical information in the form of individual product applications.

APVMA publications

The APVMA produces publications on the National Registration Scheme and related matters. These publications include:

  • monthly APVMA Gazette
  • information sheets
  • community briefs
  • corporate plans and annual operational plans
  • annual reports
  • service charter
  • media releases
  • Manual of Requirements and Guidelines (MORAG Ag and Vet)
  • labelling code of practice
  • guidelines for pesticides
  • guidelines for veterinary medicines
  • guidelines on chemistry and manufacturing aspects
  • efficacy and safety guidelines
  • setting maximum residue limits
  • guidelines for recall of pesticides and veterinary medicines
  • review of chemicals
  • code of GMP
  • reporting adverse experiences with pesticides or veterinary medicines
  • agricultural and veterinary public release summaries.

Copies of publications may be obtained by contacting:

Public Affairs Section
Tel: 02 6210 4876
Fax: 02 6210 4874
Email: contact@apvma.gov.au
Website: http://www.apvma.gov.au

Confidential information

Some APVMA documents, particularly individual chemical product applications, contain confidential commercial information, and these may not be divulged by the APVMA except in accordance with the provisions of section 162 of the Agvet Code or released under the FOI Act.

Public consultation

Special consideration is given to the APVMA’s consultative mechanisms with the pesticides and veterinary medicines industry and other relevant specialised industry sectors and community groups. The APVMA has a general policy of making itself accessible to industry associations and community organisations. It consults on a regular basis with a wide range of groups and organisations with relevant interests and maintains close contact with rural and service industries, researchers and other government agencies with an interest in pesticides and veterinary medicines. For more detail on the APVMA’s consultative framework, see Appendix C.

Information Publication Scheme

This reporting period saw the introduction of the reforms to the FOI Act from 1 November 2010 and the commencement of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) from 1 May 2011. The APVMA has prepared its IPS Agency Plan in accordance with section 8(1) of the FOI Act. The Agency Plan outlines the practices and procedures that the APVMA will put in place in order to facilitate, and to achieve, the publication and proactive disclosure of its information holdings.

The pre–1 May 2011 s8 reporting under the FOI Act required each Australian government agency subject to the Act to publish information on its organisation, functions and powers and on arrangements for public involvement in the formulation of agency policy or administration of any enactment or scheme. This statement, together with the information contained in this report is intended to meet the requirements of the FOI Act up to 1 May 2010. The IPS requirements, which commenced on 1 May 2011, have now replaced the s8 reporting regime. The APVMA’s IPS entry can be found on our website.

As part of its preparations for the IPS, the APVMA released a draft Agency Plan for public consultation on 7 April 2011 along with a draft list of the operational information intended to be published.

The APVMA implemented the IPS on 1 May 2011 and continues to increase its voluntary publication of information to the APVMA website. Considerable work was undertaken by the APVMA to ensure documents, and in particular its operational information, was up to date, accurate and complete and therefore ready for publication to the IPS. The APVMA Agency Plan and our operational information forms part of our IPS entry and is available the APVMA website.

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