This content is current only at the time of printing. This document was printed on 27 October 2021. A current copy is located at https://apvma.gov.au/node/31521
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Policy, guidelines and disclosure
As Australia’s national regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, and lead agency for the investigation of allegations of non-compliance with agvet laws, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) uses a Case Categorisation and Prioritisation Model (CCPM) to ensure the appropriate allocation of resources.
In alignment with the Australian Government Investigation Standards (AGIS), the APVMA CCPM provides for a consistent and transparent risk based approach for dealing with allegations and referrals received by the APVMA. The CCPM identifies objective factors used by the APVMA in determining risk, response and resource allocation.
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 (the Code) and the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 (the Admin Act) provide the APVMA powers to undertake compliance activities to ensure the continued safety and efficacy of registered products and address the risk associated with unregistered products. State and territory governments are responsible for regulating and monitoring how chemicals are used.
To build a culture of compliance – where individuals, business and industry take responsibility for ensuring that their activities do not cause unlawful impacts – the APVMA will sometimes need to take enforcement action. Enforcement action provides a strong deterrent to non-compliance.
The protection of human and animal health, the environment, Australia’s trade interests, and maintaining good regulatory practice, requires the APVMA to have clear guidelines governing the use of enforcement action.
Guidelines assist the APVMA in making decisions about undertaking enforcement action in accordance with their legislative powers and set out principles to provide an understanding of how the APVMA will approach enforcement.
The APVMA has published its Enforcement Guidelines as part of its commitment to transparency in its compliance activities, and to educate the public about the APVMA’s expectations and compliance approach. Individuals and businesses who have specific obligations under legislation administered by the APVMA are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these guidelines.
Infringement Notice Guideline
In April 2021, the APVMA published a new Infringement Notice Guideline made under section 6A of the Agvet Code. The guideline provides the relevant information about performance of APVMA functions and the exercise of powers in respect of infringement notices. More information about infringement notices, including penalty amounts, is available on our website.
Enforcement Advisory Group
The Enforcement Advisory Group (EAG) provides oversight of compliance and enforcement activities and is not responsible for making decisions about the exercise of compliance related powers under the legislation.
The management of individual compliance investigations, including decisions about the use of coercive powers under the Agvet laws, are the responsibility of APVMA Inspectors. During an investigation, the APVMA Inspector will take into account advice provided by the EAG, but is ultimately responsible for the exercise of powers under the Agvet Code.
The EAG provides advice to the Investigator, the Chief Executive Officer and the Executive Committee for investigations of medium and high-risk in relation to non-compliance with the requirements of the Agvet Code.
The APVMA conducts investigations in accordance with the Australian Government Investigations Standards (AGIS), published by the Attorney-General’s Department. The primary purpose of an investigation is to gather admissible evidence for any subsequent action, whether under criminal, civil penalty, civil, disciplinary or administrative sanctions.
Investigations by their nature require careful and detailed examination. The majority of factors affecting an investigation are external to the investigating body, and may include the complexity of the matter being investigated, or the location and/or degree of cooperation of witnesses. Subsequently, timeframes can change as the investigation progresses and its level of complexity is revealed.
When investigations are finalised, and where appropriate, the APVMA publishes information on its website.
Following reports of suspected non-compliance resulting in enforcement action, the APVMA may disclose personal information included in details of investigative activities to Australian Commonwealth, state or territory government agencies for law enforcement purposes. Personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). The APVMA has developed memorandums of understanding with other regulators and agencies clarifying obligations and procedures for handling information exchanged for law enforcement and other purposes.
Despite the importance of informing the public of our regulatory activities, we may not release information to the public where it may be against the public interest to do so – for example, to protect the legal rights of a person or to maintain the integrity of an investigation. The APVMA does not comment on matters that may be under investigation. This is due to the presumption of innocence, the right of entities to procedural fairness and natural justice, and the requirement not to influence or become party to other proceedings that may be underway.
Information requests about general compliance and enforcement matters are handled in accordance with the APVMA’s service charter and the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Media enquiries should be directed to the APVMA Media Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication of notices and information
The APVMA publishes certain information relating to compliance, enforcement and monitoring activities on our website, including information about enforcement action. We also report on compliance and monitoring activities in the APVMA Annual Report.