Regulatory reform

​​​​​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and its portfolio regulatory agencies work to maintain and expand Australia’s access to overseas markets as well as protecting the local economy and environment from the potentially devastating impact of exotic pests and diseases. In September 2015, machinery of government changes transferred responsibility for water resources policy, including responsibility for the water efficiency labelling and standards scheme (WELS), to the agriculture minister.

Regulation undertaken by the portfolio is an important enabler of these outcomes. Some key regulatory activities in the agriculture and water resources portfolio include:

  • delivering biosecurity, export certification services (including live animal exports) for animal and plant products, ensuring the safety of imported and domestic food
  • regulating agricultural and veterinary chemicals up to the point of retail sale including the import and export of those chemicals and medicines
  • ensuring truthfulness of wine labelling and delivering export certification services for wine
  • collecting levies for research, development and marketing
  • managing Commonwealth fisheries
  • water efficiency labelling and standards scheme (WELS)
  • some regulatory functions under the Water Act (2007)

Since the 1970s the department has undertaken significant regulatory reform, from market-based approaches to resource allocation, to a focus on efficient and effective risk-based regulation and investment in service delivery modernisation.

Since October, 2013, this work has continued under the deregulation agenda, now known as the regulatory reform agenda. Some information relating to water resources policy and the earlier deregulation agenda may be found on the Department of the Environment’s website.

What we are doing

The department is working with its internal and portfolio regulators to:

  • identify areas for improvement and reform, using results from a portfolio-wide regulation audit conducted in 2014. Outcomes from this audit can be found in our 2014 annual deregulation report ​​ PDF [1​.9 MB]  Word [1 MB]
  • investigate opportunities to cut unnecessary red tape and make it easier for businesses and individuals to understand and respond to our regulatory requirements
  • track and publicly report ​our contribution to the government’s $1 billion net annual red tape reduction target
  • encourage vigorous and transparent consideration of policy and regulatory options and associated impacts in line with the Australian Government Guide to Regulation
  • develop performance metrics in consultation with industry and regulated entities, to assess our performance against the Regulator Performance Framework
  • develop criteria for adopting international s​tandards and risk assessments where appropriate in order to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden.

Further details on our work under the regulatory reform agenda can be found at:

Further information: