In April 2020 the then Minister for Workplace Safety, the Hon. Jill Hennessy MP, announced a comprehensive review of Victoria’s dangerous goods laws and appointed Andrew Palmer QC as the Independent Reviewer.

The Review is part of the Victorian Government’s response to high profile incidents associated with illegal chemical stockpiling at several sites across Melbourne.

The Review is considering contemporary issues and challenges in the management of dangerous goods including emerging risks and issues and their impact on the safety of people and property.

Public comment

The Consultation Paper for the Independent Review of the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and associated regulations was made available for public comment from 1 October to 5.00 pm 30 November 2020.

The primary purpose of the public consultation phase was to facilitate broader public discussion about the management of dangerous goods in Victoria.

The Review’s Consultation Paper is attached below. It raises a number of issues which address the Review’s Terms of Reference – some broad, some more specific – and suggests ways in which those issues might be addressed. It also discusses Victoria’s dangerous goods landscape, takes readers through the current regulatory framework and presents a list of questions to assist interested individuals and organisations to share their views and make a submission.

Submissions made to the Independent Review that are authorised for publication are available in the Public Submissions section of this page.

What we are seeking your feedback on

The question of whether the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and associated regulations are fit for their intended purposes is broad and, as such, the Review is considering and examining a number of matters.

The ‘Terms of Reference’ section of the Consultation Paper addresses each of those matters in turn, exploring the issues that seem relevant to them, and asking a series of questions (below) on which we are seeking submissions.

You are not required to address all of the questions posed and you are also welcome to raise other issues that may not be covered in the Consultation Paper.

Question 1: To what extent does Victoria’s dangerous goods legislation promote the safety of persons and property?

Question 2: To what extent does it promote the effective management of dangerous goods?

Question 3: How could it be improved so that it better promotes these objectives?

Question 4: How could the Dangerous Goods Act and associated regulations be enhanced to be more risk-based and prevention-focused?

Question 5: Should dangerous goods legislation include a broad, general principle-based duty to minimise risks of harm to persons and property?

Question 6: Broadly speaking, do the Storage and Handling, Explosives, High Consequence Dangerous Goods and Transport Regulations impose the right combination of the different kinds of duties?

Question 7: What role should codes and guidance material play in supporting the Dangerous Goods Act and associated regulations?

Question 8: Do you have any suggestions about how the codes and guidance material issued by WorkSafe could be improved?

Question 9: Should a permissioning framework be introduced for higher-risk sites and/or activities involving dangerous goods?

Question 10: What kinds of incidents involving dangerous goods should duty holders be required to report to WorkSafe?

Question 11: How could the dangerous goods legislation be made more effective in deterring non-compliance and illegal activity in relation to the management of dangerous goods?

Question 12: What methods could WorkSafe use to identify unknown dangerous goods sites, and do those methods require additional legal powers?

Question 13: Are the triggers for notification appropriate?

Question 14: What types of information should be notified?

Question 15: What methods could WorkSafe use to monitor the dangerous goods market, and do those methods require additional legal powers?

Question 16: To what extent is the detection of unknown or illegal dangerous goods activity hampered by restrictions on information sharing by government agencies?

Question 17: What kind of information sharing should be permitted?

Question 18: What are the obstacles to the effective management of dangerous goods where the functions and powers of multiple agencies intersect and overlap?

Question 19: How could interagency coordination in relation to dangerous goods be improved?

Question 20: Should powers be delegated between agencies to improve coordination?

Question 21: Under what circumstances should a dangerous goods inspector be permitted to enter a place where dangerous goods might be stored?

Question 22: Should there be a power for inspectors to enter a residential premises? What should the threshold for these powers be?

Question 23: Does WorkSafe need broader powers to intervene at non-compliant sites?

Question 24: If so, what powers does it need, and what should be the threshold to the exercise of those powers?

Question 25: Should WorkSafe have the power to redirect body corporate obligations to their officers and controlling entities?

Question 26: What costs should WorkSafe be able to recover, and from whom?

Question 27: Should WorkSafe be empowered to require entities engaging in dangerous goods activities to provide financial assurances, and if so, how should this be done?

Question 28: Should dangerous goods operators only be permitted to dispose of their waste to accredited waste providers?

Question 29: Alternatively, should dangerous goods operators have a duty to undertake due diligence in relation to the disposal of their waste?

Question 30: Should officer liability for dangerous goods offences be based on a due diligence test or duty?

Question 31: Should a civil penalty regime be introduced into the dangerous goods legislation, so that WorkSafe has the option of bringing a civil penalty proceeding in relation to a dangerous goods contravention, as an alternative to a criminal prosecution?

Question 32: Should an infringements scheme be introduced for dangerous goods offences, and if so, which ones?

Question 33: Should maximum penalties be increased for (some or all) dangerous goods offences?

Question 34: How has the dangerous goods industry changed from when the Dangerous Goods Act was first introduced?

Question 35: Are there any other emerging issues and challenges that Victoria’s dangerous goods legislation should be responding to?

Question 36: What does the future of the dangerous goods industry look like?

Question 37: What are the main challenges in the disposal of chemical waste in Victoria?

Question 38: Are there new technologies being introduced into the dangerous goods industry that will change the way the industry operates? Will this create new risks?

Question 39: How does Victoria’s dangerous goods legislation need to adapt and change in order to meet these issues and challenges?

Question 40: Should a new Dangerous Goods Act adopt (as far as possible) the structure, order, language and conceptual framework of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act)?

Question 41: Should dangerous goods legislation be incorporated within the OHS Act?

Question 42: Should Dangerous Goods Act and Transport Regulations apply to the transport of prescribed industrial waste?

Question 43: Should amendments to the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) come into force automatically?

Question 44: Should the detailed regulations and offence provisions in the Transport Regulations be replaced by a single offence of failing to comply with the ADG Code?

Question 45: How can the way in which dangerous chemicals are classified and captured be streamlined?

Question 46: Should Essential Safety Measures compliance be a condition of operating a dangerous goods site or facility?

Question 47: Should occupiers be required to implement the advice given by emergency services authorities, rather than simply “have regard to” it?

Question 48: Should Victoria recognise interstate dangerous goods licences?

Question 49: Should ammonium nitrate be regulated by the Explosives Regulations?

Question 50: Are there any other relevant matters that the Review should consider?

Making a submission

Submissions closed at 5.00 pm on Monday 30 November 2020.

Written submissions could be made electronically by uploading a submission or sending to the following:

  • Email: DGReview@worksafe.vic.gov.au
  • Write to:
    The Secretariat
    Dangerous Goods Act Review
    C/- WorkSafe Victoria
    P O Box 279
    Geelong Vic 3220

Submissions were not required to address all of the questions posed and were also welcome to raise other issues that may not have been covered in the consultation paper.

Collection notice

This is an independent review. However, as the Independent Review of the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and associated regulations (the Review) is supported by a WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe) led Secretariat, WorkSafe’s information management and privacy policies apply.

Disclaimer: To the full extent permitted by law, WorkSafe does not accept liability for any loss, damage or claim whatsoever arising from any party making a submission, or from any third party included, identified or named in a submission.

Collection Notice: WorkSafe collects and handles personal information in accordance with Victorian privacy laws and principles.

Your name and contact details are collected by WorkSafe for the purpose of identifying and responding to your comments or submission to the Review.

WorkSafe will disclose your name, contact details and submission to Andrew Palmer QC who has been appointed to conduct the Review, and who is independent of WorkSafe.

Your submission will be published under your name or, where relevant, your organisation’s name on the Engage Victoria website, unless you select the relevant check box to say that you do not wish to have your submission published. Your email, home or business address will not be published.

You also have the option to provide your submission anonymously. If you do not wish for your name, or organisation’s name, to be published with your submission, please select the relevant check box.

If you choose to have your submission published, please ensure that individuals are not identified in the content.

The information you provide in your submission will be used to inform the Review’s final report and recommendations to the Minister for Workplace Safety in mid-2021.

Any information contained in submissions may be referred to or reproduced in the final report. If you do not wish your submission (or any part of it), or your name (or the name of your organisation), to be referred to in the final report, please state this clearly in your submission.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about this Review, please email DGReview@worksafe.vic.gov.au. To access or correct the information you have provided, please contact privacy@worksafe.vic.gov.au.