Ms Philippa Smith AM Chairperson
Food Standards Australia New Zealand Board
PO Box 7186
Canberra ACT 2610
Dear Ms Smith
I would like to express my appreciation of the valuable and important work being undertaken by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to fulfil the objectives of FSANZ as set out in the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act).
On 10 August 2009, the then Parliamentary Secretary for Health, the Hon Mark Butler MP, provided you with a Statement of Expectation for your consideration and requested that you respond to this document by providing a Statement of Intent, indicating how you intended to meet the Statement of Expectation. You complied with this request and provided your Statement of Intent on 17 September 2009.
To ensure that the Statement of Expectation remains current, it is reviewed annually and, if required, updated. FSANZ's Statement of Expectation has recently been reviewed and the updated Statement of Expectation is below. This Statement of Expectation does not constitute a Ministerial Direction, a conferral of functions, a term or condition of office, or a delegation of power under the FSANZ Act. I request that FSANZ consider this updated Statement of Expectation and respond by reviewing and appropriately updating your Statement of Intent accordingly.
This response should indicate how FSANZ proposes to meet the Government's expectations, based on appropriate, measurable and verifiable performance indicators.
The Statement of Expectation for FSANZ
This Statement of Expectation formally outlines how FSANZ should operate to achieve its key objectives.
The object of the FSANZ Act is to ensure a high standard of public health protection through the establishment and operation of FSANZ to achieve the following goals:
- a high degree of consumer confidence in the quality and safety of food produced, processed, sold or exported from Australia and New Zealand;
- an effective, transparent and accountable regulatory framework within which the food industry can work efficiently;
- the provision of adequate information relating to food to enable consumers to make informed choices; and
- the establishment of common rules for both countries and the promotion of consistency between domestic and international food regulatory measures without reducing the safeguards applying to public health and consumer protection.
In performing your role as Chairperson of the FSANZ Board (the Board), I ask the Board to work closely and cooperatively with the Department of Health and Ageing (the Department), which will continue as the primary source of policy development and advice to the Australian Government.
Short and long-term priorities
I ask that FSANZ supports the Government's priorities through the appropriate prioritising of its functions. The Government is committed to a food regulation system that protects public health and safety while seeking to provide the most efficient and effective regulatory regime possible.
One of the functions of FSANZ is to provide me, as the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for food matters, with advice. This is an essential function as it allows me to be fully informed about food matters, and in particular in respect of issues concerning public health and safety. However, this also facilitates the coordination of information received from other portfolios and government agencies, enabling the Government to coordinate its broader policy objectives.
In the short-term, this may be achieved through continued liaison with the Department in relation to various initiatives:
- The Government response to Labelling Logic: the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (2011). The response to the labelling review is due to be considered by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) in December 2011 and, depending on which recommendations are adopted, could potentially have short, medium and long-term impacts on FSANZ. I would like FSANZ to be mindful of the potential impact that this response may have for your organisation, and outline your thoughts on managing these possible changes.
- At the Ministerial Council meeting in May 2011, it was agreed that all the 2009 COAG milestones had been met. It was also noted that further changes to the food regulation arena may form part of a new package of regulatory reforms post COAG's August 2011 meeting. FSANZ should note that there may be further work as a result. FSANZ will have a role in supporting the Government in this work, which may influence any short-term priorities.
In the longer term, FSANZ will have involvement in the following initiatives:
- The National Food Plan (NFP) has a broad scope, and is examining issues such as food security, productivity and efficiency, sustainability, health and nutrition and general economic policy relating to the food sector. The NFP will recognise the wide range of work already being undertaken by other stakeholders and government agencies such as FSANZ. I would like FSANZ to be cognisant of this process and to give some thought to FSANZ's role as the Plan develops.
- FSANZ is responsible for the new Code Interpretation Service (CIS) which will provide interpretive advice on some food standards in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, in consultation with the states and territories. Operating primarily on a cost recovery basis, this service will be adopted and applied by all state and territory food regulatory agencies in the course of their monitoring and enforcement activities. The CIS is to be reviewed after two years of operation. I would like FSANZ to outline how this service has been received by users after the first year of operation and advise me of any early issues that may have arisen.
- At the August 2011 Implementation Sub Committee meeting, members discussed the new mandatory reporting regime which requires suppliers to report to the Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC) consumer product related incidents where there has been a death or serious injury or illness within two days of becoming aware of the incident. I would like to know how mandatory reporting fits into the existing food regulation system and how FSANZ will be working with the NSW Food Authority and the ACCC on a process for direct referral of mandatory notifications from the ACCC to the responsible jurisdiction.
- At the same meeting, the issue of regulatory oversight of the Food Medicine Interface was also discussed. I would like FSANZ to outline how it sees its position in relation to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), as pmi of the interface between the regulators.
- I also ask that FSANZ maintain a strong focus on its productivity and efficiency, particularly in regard to its standards development work. The requisite legislative timelines are a maximum timeframe and I would like to see FSANZ delivering final outputs that are well within these timelines. I also request that FSANZ continues to ensure project work is aligned with the Government's strategic direction and priorities. In your Statement of Intent back to me, I would like you to include performance targets to measure improvements in timeframes for finalising standards.
I ask that FSANZ fully complies with its responsibilities under the FSANZ Act and that FSANZ operates in accordance with all relevant legislation including the FSANZ Act, the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act), the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act) and the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act).
In addition to its role as stipulated in the FSANZ Act, FSANZ also undertakes a range of other important functions, such as the national coordination of food surveillance and food recall systems, providing information to consumers, conducting research and supporting the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service in the control of imported foods. I ask that FSANZ continue to play a leading role in these activities.
FSANZ's functions are set out in section 13 of the FSANZ Act. A number of these functions, such as: facilitating the harmonisation of state and territory laws relating to food; coordinating the development of procedures required to implement requirements set out in standards; and coordinating the monitoring, surveillance and enforcement of activities relating to food available in Australia, are directly relevant to FSANZ's role in supporting the Government in achieving its priorities in the broader food regulatory framework. I would also request that FSANZ directly support the Government's priorities relating to the cutting of red tape and reducing regulatory burden, without compromising public health and safety, as an additional functional responsibility.
As a part of FSANZ's consideration of applications and proposals, FSANZ is required to have regard to policy guidelines formulated by the Ministerial Council. While FSANZ must have regard to policy guidelines they are not binding on FSANZ. However, inconsistency with policy guidelines can be invoked by the Ministerial Council as a reason to request a review. This, however, should not override the need for food standards to be based on risk analysis using the best available scientific evidence.
The FSANZ Board comprises 12 members (including yourself) drawn from specialist areas—public health, food science, human nutrition, consumer affairs, food allergy, medical science, microbiology, food safety, biotechnology, veterinary science, primary food production, the food industry, food processing or retailing, small business, international trade, food regulation, consumer rights and consumer affairs policy, the National Health and Medical Research Council and government. The Board should ensure that it is aware of, and fully engaged in the development of, the strategic directions of FSANZ.
I note that FSANZ and the Department operate within the same broad policy platform. The Secretary of the Department plays an important role in providing me with policy advice in my oversight of portfolio agencies. To ensure that the Secretary and the Department can undertake this advisory role, I request that you inform the Secretary (or the Department) of relevant issues and information affecting the portfolio. I ask FSANZ and the Department to maintain their close working relationship based on the principles of open communication, “no surprises”, and information sharing.
The work undertaken by FSANZ involves building relationships with other agencies and organisations to ensure that the objectives of FSANZ are met. These relationships include the Food Medicine Interface with the TGA and the joint work that is undertaken between FSANZ and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
FSANZ has also fostered relationships internationally for work involving the CODEX Alimentarius Commission, as well as projects that are research focused. I would like you to advise how these relationships will be maintained and if there are any further relationships which FSANZ is facilitating.
In having regard to the interests of the Government, I ask that you provide myself and the Department with appropriate notice of key issues, reports and events that may impact on government operations or policies.
Compliance activities—CAC Act bodies
I request that the Board exercise prudence in its financial management of FSANZ in the context of its legislative framework, my expectations as set out in this document and the requirements of the CAC Act and the Corporations Act.
The FSANZ Board is collectively accountable for the performance of FSANZ's functions and financial management. Directors are responsible for exercising their powers and discharge of their duties in good faith and in the best interests of the Commonwealth; and with the degree of care and diligence that a reasonable person would exercise.
Under the CAC Act, the Board must notify me of any significant events, keep me informed of the operations of FSANZ, and comply with general policy orders issued by the Minister for Finance.
Any breaches of the CAC Act, CAC Regulations or CAC Finance Ministers Orders must be reported in your annual compliance report.
The agency as an employer
I ask you as Chairperson of the Board to ensure that FSANZ is a responsible employer, develops a positive work culture, and manages workforce planning including oversight of turnover and retention.
In addition, I would like you to lead FSANZ in a way that it is seen as a good place to work, family friendly and an employer that is inclusive of our diverse community. FSANZ should set high human resource standards and ensure that it is well placed to effectively implement human resource policy equivalent to public sector workplaces.
FSANZ employees shall be aware of, and adhere to, the Public Service Code of Conduct and the PS Act. I ask the Authority to comply with the Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework. As FSANZ employs staff under the PS Act, it is necessary that FSANZ complies with the Australian Government's Employee Bargaining Framework. In addition, in the development of any Enterprise Agreement (EA), it is Government policy that the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, approves the EA prior to the finalisation of negotiations with staff and consideration (vote) by staff.
In the interests of transparency, I expect that the FSANZ Statement of Expectation and the Statement of Intent will be placed on the FSANZ website.
I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with FSANZ to ensure that the current high standards continue into the future. I would appreciate receiving the FSANZ Statement of Intent within the next three months outlining how you plan to achieve the goals, standards and timelines outlined in this Statement of Expectation.
11 The COAG Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation convenes as the Ministerial Council