Private Members' Ethical Cosmetics Bill 2016 in Commonwealth

Tuesday 8 March 2016 @ 12.39 p.m. | Legal Research

On 29 February 2016, Private Member Clare O'Neill MP introduced the Ethical Cosmetics Bill 2016 (the Bill). The bill aims to ban the practice of testing cosmetics on live animals in Australia, and the importation into and manufacture in Australia of cosmetics tested on live animals overseas.

Purpose of the Bill

This Bill amends the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) to provide new offences regarding the importation and manufacture of cosmetics and the testing of cosmetics on live animals. The Bill makes a number of other amendments to the Act for consistency and to ensure the regulating body has sufficient information to monitor these requirements.

The Bill proposes four new offences regarding live animal testing in addition to existing offences regarding the approval and assessment of an industrial chemical:

  • An offence to import or manufacture a cosmetic in Australian that has been tested on a live animal.
  • An offence to import or manufacture a substance where testing has been conducted on a live animal, and the dominant purpose of the testing relates to the substance’s use in a cosmetic.
  • An offence to test a cosmetic on live animals in Australia.
  • An offence to test a substance on a live animal in Australia if the dominant purpose of the testing relates to the substance’s use in a cosmetic.

Intention and recklessness are the default fault element for the offences. Importers or manufacturers must have reasonable knowledge of the testing a substance has been subject to. The offences would also apply to bodies corporate. This is intended to ensure that subsidiaries are assumed to have reasonable knowledge of the testing activities of their parent entities.

As stated in the Second Reading Speech:

“We also heard a lot of scientists who came to us and said, 'You know, there's actually no need for this anymore, because we can provide better testing, more accurate testing, of human response without using animals.' There are lots of alternative tests, and again I would point to the European Union as a jurisdiction where they have been able to put those into place.”

There are provisions within the Bill, should its contents explicitly breach Australia’s international obligations, that would not have effect to that extent. 

The Bill is currently in the House of Representatives awaiting Second Reading Debate.

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Ethical Cosmetics Bill 2016 as reproduced in TimeBase LawOne

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