This content is current only at the time of printing. This document was printed on 26 April 2017. A current copy is located at http://apvma.gov.au/node/133
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APVMA administration and oversight of compliance and enforcement
The Enforcement Committee is an internal APVMA compliance and enforcement governance mechanism that enables senior executive oversight of critical decisions on compliance and enforcement matters. The committee meets monthly and as needed for time-critical decisions. If a meeting cannot be scheduled, an Enforcement Committee decision can be made by phone conference or email.
The objective of the committee is to ensure that we conduct our compliance and enforcement actions in accordance with the APVMA compliance and enforcement policy and the Australian Government Investigations Standards. The committee also allows for the strategic consideration of cases, promotes the effective allocation of resources and supports a coordinated approach to compliance and enforcement across our program areas. We expect the committee process to be used for APVMA compliance matters, especially for cases involving significant risk, the deployment of significant resources or the proposed use of coercive powers. It is not required for routine compliance operational matters.
Decisions made by the Enforcement Committee are internal deliberative decisions. They do not represent exercise of delegated powers related to statutory decision-making. The proceedings of the committee are not reviewable and remain confidential as part of the APVMA compliance and enforcement function.
Further information about the APVMA Enforcement Committee is in the Enforcement Committee factsheet.
Records that we generate or receive in the course of our official duties are Australian Government records and are subject to various legislative requirements. They may also be subject to internal or external rights, merits or judicial reviews and be used for evidentiary purposes.
We keep complete records of compliance and enforcement case management and decisions to support our regulatory actions and ensure that our activities are defensible and able to be scrutinised.
Information requests about general compliance and enforcement matters are handled in accordance with the APVMA’s service charter, subject to any confidentiality obligations and legislative requirements relating to information security and privacy. The service charter is on the APVMA website.
People who submit reports of suspected noncompliance to us are usually interested in how their report is being or has been managed. Detailed information about the progress of an enquiry or investigation might not always be available, as making it available may be unfair or prejudicial to a person or company.
In particular, we will not comment where doing so would potentially prejudice a person’s or a company’s right to a fair hearing or legal process, impinge upon the privacy or safety of others involved in the investigation (such as complainants, witnesses and suspects) or prejudice past, current or future actions of the APVMA.
Details of investigative activities normally remain confidential. However, most court proceedings are open to the public. We consider that there is public interest in publicising enforcement outcomes and do so where appropriate. The Code Act requires the publication of certain outcomes, such as enforceable undertakings.
The APVMA may share information with co-regulators for law enforcement purposes. When this occurs, the relevant information security and privacy provisions apply, in line with the Information Privacy Principles of the Privacy Act 1988. We have developed a number of memorandums of understanding with other regulators, clarifying procedures for handling information exchanged for law enforcement and other purposes.
We handle requests for information relating to compliance or enforcement, or to matters made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, in accordance with the process set out in that Act. Any decision to release or refuse to release information is considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.
Media enquiries are handled by the APVMA public affairs unit and the APVMA compliance and enforcement spokesperson.
Notices and information that the APVMA publishes
The APVMA publishes certain information relating to compliance and enforcement activities on its website, including information on monitoring activities, enforcement actions and the value of infringement notices issued. We also report on our performance of our compliance and enforcement activities in our annual report.
Complaints and feedback
As well as legal review, people or companies can also complain about the conduct of an APVMA compliance investigation or of APVMA inspectors and other staff. This may be on the basis of perceived bias or unfair or inappropriate behaviour. Complaints of this type may be made to us for internal consideration or to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
The Australian Government Investigation Standards outline the standards required of Australian Government agencies, such as the APVMA, in identifying and adhering to the operational framework, legislation and powers that they operate under. We manage all compliance investigations according to the investigation standards and other relevant Australian Government guidelines and best practice requirements.