A Turnbull government move to slash industrial chemical regulation could create "toxic chemical disasters" and leave the public and officials oblivious to the risks, critics have warned.
Cancer Council Australia, unions and public health advocates have expressed alarm over the proposed changes, which mean more than 99 per cent of new industrial chemicals will not be officially assessed for threats to public health and the environment before being introduced to the public.
About 30,000 chemicals used in Australia since before the regulatory scheme began in 1990 have not yet been assessed by NICNAS. The network described the backlog as "gross regulatory failure" and said the bill does nothing to address it.
The Victorian Trades Hall Council told the inquiry that if the bill goes ahead, "we will have new chemicals coming into Australia that government will not know about, that the public will not know about and that workers will not know about."
Chemistry Australia, the peak national body for the chemicals industry, said the changes would "ensure that Australian users of industrial chemicals have access to the latest, most innovative chemistry on the same day as their overseas competitors".
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