Forever delayed? Australia postpones ban on animal testing for a third time to 2020
The ban on cosmetic testing on animals is part of the Industrial Chemicals Bill, which aims to establish the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS).
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) announced on January 11 that the deadline has been extended as legislation for the new scheme is expected to be debated in the senate in the first half of 2019.
Government amendments to change the commencement date will be addressed during that time.
“The Liberal National Government looks forward to implementing the ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals, that is included in the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017. This ban will also commence on 1 July 2020,” it said in a statement.
NICNAS said that the delay would give them more time to assist the industry to adequately prepare for compliance with the new scheme.
It noted that the Liberal National Government has considered options to address issues associated with the revised timeline and stressed that the Australian government fully intends to pass the bill and cement the ban on cosmetic testing on animals.
“The Liberal National Government remains committed to implementing the reforms to establish the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), including the ban on the use of data derived from animal testing to support the introduction of cosmetic ingredients.”
In the meantime, the current regulatory scheme for industrial chemicals will continue until the AICIS commences.
Deferments and loopholes
The Australian government first its commitment to a ban on animal testing during the 2016 elections, citing strong support from the public as one of the reasons it has decided to pass it into law.
This ban will prohibit the use of animal test data for the majority of cosmetics introduced in Australia, ensuring that animal testing is only used as a last resort.
It was supposed to take effect in July 2017, but was pushed back for 12 months.
In August 2018, the government announced the decision to defer commencement of the scheme until 1 July 2019 in order to help regulated entities adequately prepare for its implementation.
Meanwhile, animal welfare groups such as the Humane Society International (HSI) and Humane Research Australia (HRA) have voiced concerns about potential loopholes in the legislation.
In a joint recommendation by HIS and HRA, the groups stated concerns over the bill’s language, which prohibits the use of animal test data if the ingredient is used “solely in cosmetics”.
The groups are concerned that a large portion of chemicals would be able to bypass the ban as they have multiple end uses.
The ban wouldn't include a large proportion of the chemicals that are tested on animals but are also used extensively outside cosmetics.
To prevent any exploitation of the loop hole, the NGOs recommended the removal of the word “solely” and adjusting the two-track system to group end uses as “cosmetic” or “non-cosmetic” to ensure that the cosmetics animal testing ban applies to all introductions for use.