Steps in the policy framework

Page last updated: 21 November 2016

a. Exploring the need for a policy

Issues for consideration can be initiated a number of ways including from outcomes of discussions at FRSC, a request from Ministers, an issue raised with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) or by the Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR). If a need is identified, and work is agreed to be undertaken, the scope, objectives and the way forward are agreed at this point.

b. Understanding the issue

This is intended to be a short, sharp assessment to ensure a full understanding of the issue (problem) including the risks, challenges and opportunities. At this step, stakeholder discussion is initiated by FRSC, to enable a better understanding of the problem and its impacts. Evidence collected feeds into the preliminary risk assessment, to help demonstrate if further work on the problem is justified.

A report to FRSC is prepared at this stage, describing the issue, how the issue impacts jurisdictions, industry and/or the community, the nature and extent of the risk posed by the issue and any evidence to demonstrate market failure. The report recommends to FRSC whether to proceed with the policy making process, or not and maybe considered outside of regular FRSC meetings to ensure a timely response. Other considerations addressed at this stage are other parties dealing with issue, and the impacts of not addressing the issue.

c. Gateway 1

A decision to pass this gateway depends on the source of the issue and the recommendation provided on whether to proceed. (See Diagram 1). If the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) has requested action on an issue, a paper to the Forum is required when it is recommended not to proceed; or if the responsibility for action belongs elsewhere. The Forum’s decision based on this paper, would then dictate the next steps in the process. If FRSC has agreed to proceed, then the process continues without delay. If appropriate, an update would be provided to the next Forum meeting.

d. Describing the desired outcome

This step is focussed on what success would look like. A stakeholder analysis should be undertaken during the early stages of this step. To describe the desired outcome, a clear understanding of what FRSC is trying to achieve is important, so the ultimate success of the policy can be measured and evaluated. At this point, gathering data will help create a benchmark by which to determine the impact of any policy change. It will also clearly describe what the intent of the policy is, building on the initial assessment and consulting further with stakeholders.

e. Developing and evaluating options

The aim of this stage is to identify and select the best tool/s that achieves the desired outcomes. Each of the options under consideration are developed and tested. Innovative thinking is required and the range of options should be explored. Testing these will often show failure of an idea but through failure there is an opportunity to learn and build. To achieve the best result, thinking ‘outside the box’ is necessary when considering what is desirable, possible and viable as options. Key considerations at this point include implementation issues, costs and resources required.

This stage is undertaken in collaboration with affected stakeholders. Stakeholder consultation can occur in a variety of ways, including the development and release of a formal consultation paper and request for stakeholder submissions. Where a formal stakeholder consultation process occurs, a Policy Options Paper will be prepared and distributed to stakeholders for their feedback.

More information about the Policy Options Paper

This paper is to be developed where formal stakeholder consultation is undertaken as part of developing and evaluating options in the policy making process.
  • present issues and arguments in an objective, clear and succinct manner;
  • present a range of positions and options for comment;
  • generate public discussion;
  • elicit broad community support; and
  • Create high level awareness with stakeholders.

The aim of the Policy Options Paper is to:

  • be clear and unambiguous;
  • include the criteria by which options have been assessed (these are generally expressed as High Order and Specific Policy Principles);
  • clearly articulate all options to be considered;
  • further develop the options to be considered, including an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages including potential implementation issues and costs identified;
  • where relevant, discuss any options that have not been further explored and provide reasons why; and
  • Invite comment on the option/s being considered.
After stakeholder consultation is completed, the responsible working group collates all stakeholder submissions received into a summary document that fairly and accurately represents the views expressed in all submissions received by the working group.

To assist in identifying any emerging themes or issues from particular stakeholder groups, the summary will present the stakeholder responses by respondents, for example, consumers; food industry; government and public health.

A regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) will also be prepared at this point based on the policy options being considered. The RIS will be prepared consistent with advice set out in the Best Practice Regulation: A guide for ministerial councils and national standard setting bodies.

f. Providing a recommendation

FRSC will discuss the working group’s paper describing the outputs from each step and the rationale for the recommended option. Once this is agreed, FRSC will submit its recommendation to the Forum for their consideration.

If the recommended option is to develop or amend a standard, a Policy Guideline will be developed to enable FSANZ to undertake its legislated procedures. The Policy Guideline needs to be clear, comprehensive and consistent but should not be so prescriptive that it specifies the details of standards to FSANZ, and therefore cause potential conflict with the procedures that FSANZ undertakes in developing food standards.

In preparing the Policy Guideline, the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) and the New Zealand Treasury Regulatory Impact (TRIAT) will be consulted to ensure that the advice forms the basis of policy guidance to allow FSANZ to proceed with its legislative process for developing or amending a standard.

The draft Policy Guideline should outline the agreed policy principles and the recommended policy option. A Food Regulation Policy Guideline should:
  • be consistent with the FSANZ Act;
  • reflect the application of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code)to the whole food supply chain (Australia only);
  • take into consideration existing law;
  • prioritise policy principles, where appropriate;
  • be clear, concise and unambiguous;
  • be evidence based wherever possible;
  • be developed with appropriate technical and scientific input;
  • be developed in a level of detail commensurate with the complexity and sensitivity of the policy issue;
  • take into account economic impacts and consideration of any relevant social or cultural impacts;
  • be developed with appropriate consultation;
  • take into account implementation requirements; and
  • take into consideration the potential regulatory impact of the policy.

g. Gateway 2- Approval of proposed policy by Forum Members

Ministers decide on action recommended by FRSC.

h. Building and implementing the approved option

At this step, the process and decision of who is responsibility for carrying out the work is dependent on the Forum’s decision. If implementing the policy does not require a food standard to be developed, the Forum may agree to implement the policy on a trial basis. Stakeholders will continue to be engaged, to help gain acceptance of the policy and to ensure the final shape of the policy design is both effective and practical.

i. Evaluating the policy’s effectiveness

This step continues to involve stakeholders and utilises the initial assessment of the issue and any benchmarking data developed. Evaluation will inform any modifications required or may indicate a need to move to increased government intervention. The stakeholder engagement and partnership approach should encourage open and honest feedback, and assist evaluation of the policy without necessarily being a formal, resource intensive process.

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