Cosmetic testing to be a thing of the past?

In 2013 the first complete ban of cosmetics tested on animals occurred in the European Union. The EU implemented legislation that no cosmetic that has been tested on animals can be sold or manufactured within the Union.  Since 2013 other countries such as Israel, Norway, New Zealand and India have implemented similar legislation. Now it may be Australia’s turn with the Ethical Cosmetics Bill 2016, which is the second amendment bill  to Industrial Chemicals Act 1989 since 2014, which was commended to the lower house on the 29th of February.

Animal testing for cosmetics is usually preformed on rats, mice, rabbits and guinea pigs. These animals are subjected to multiple allergy tests in the mucous membranes without pain relief. Many of these animals die and this is an outdated practice with many safe chemicals now freely available for manufacturing, as well as other scientific methods for testing such as cell culture, computer models and donated tissues.

Clare O’Neil the Member for Hotham moved the bill to see an end to the importation and manufacturing of all cosmetics and substances for cosmetics that have been tested on animals within Australia. The bill is implementing the importing of cosmetics into Australia or manufacturing a product in Australia that has been tested on animals an offence. The proposed changes also state that no applications will be granted for cosmetic ingredients to be tested on live animals under any circumstance. Though this is not the first time that an amendment has been presented to Parliament. In March 2014 Senator Lee Rhiannon commended the End Cruel Cosmetics Bill 2014 to the upper house, however, two years later we still have not seen a result.

The amendment was seconded by Stephen Jones Member for Whitlam and together they held multiple public forums where they took information from the public and industry figures regarding the proposed amendment. Mr. Jones also informed us that they received over 13 000 submissions regarding the amendment and most were strikingly in favour.

So does this mean all our current beauty products will be removed from our shelves? The answer is no. The amendment clearly states that the new legislation will not apply if testing on a live animal was conducted before the commencement of this amendment. Mrs. O’Neil has also confirmed this on her Facebook page that all products that are already readily available will remain on shelves, and that removal of these products would not help her cause. Rather Mrs. O’Neil is concentrating on ensuring that future products are not subjected to animal tests.

But what are the financial implications?  This amendment is closely modelled on Europe’s approach and they are yet to suffer any significant financial loss. Mr. Jones also informed us that the Bill is providing companies a three year transition period. Nevertheless, it is clear Australia is currently lacking behind the rest of the world, though Mr. Jones is optimistic that there is support in Parliament for the amendment saying, ‘it would be hard to argue against’. Though he did state when asked if this is the start of a complete ban on animal testing, that individuals would be less likely to approve the ban on medical testing.

Migrants intimidated by the media?

SG_729_Azadeh-620x349Image source: SMH

In the 2013 Australian Federal election we witnessed how poorly migrants are represented within the media, especially Asylum Seekers. Since 1945 an estimated 6.6 million people (Salazar 2012 p.2) have migrated to Australia with only 10 percent being refugees. These migrants often face many battles; racism, language and cultural obstacles, health issues and struggling with the feeling of displacement and loss (Salazar 2012 p.3). Consequently these individuals can often be a vulnerable group within our society and with media representing stereotypes, moral panics and politician’s degrading these individuals, how can they feel a sense of belonging?

A main campaign area for the last Federal election was Asylum Seekers. Within this debate we were subjected to the Liberals media propaganda declaring to ‘stop the boats’ and presented with weekly statistics of the number of ‘illegal Asylum Seeker’s’ attempting to seek refuge on our shores. The media neglected to note that seeking Asylum is not illegal but is a fundamental human right to request asylum under international law.

The mass media also framed our boat arrival numbers to be that of an extreme influx when The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (2013) puts Australia as 49th in the world for the total number of Refugees and compared to our GDP we are ranked 87th (The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 2013). In regards to Asylum seekers the resource centre places Australia at 20th in the world and 52nd compared to our GDP (The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 2013). Therefore in comparison we are not being “Swamped” by refugees/Asylum Seekers as we are not even in the top 10 nations within the world to receive these migrants.

Representations through the media will not cease until our politicians accurately address these communities within the media. Liberal Member of Parliament Fiona Scott during the election campaign placed blame on Asylum Seekers for traffic on the M4 and for long queues at local hospitals (Blake 2013).  Yet as stated earlier Salazar (2013 p.2) only found that 10 percentage of all migration were Asylum Seekers/ Refugees, hardly an amount of individuals that could cause such disruption as Fiona Scott is trying to state.

Politicians and the media need to take a diasporic view and help to familiarise these migrants into their host country without intimidation. Rather than promoting stereotypes and neglecting facts within reports framing these individuals to be illegal and essentially disrupting the Australian way of life

References:

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 2013, Australia vs. the world, viewed 22nd May 2014, < http://www.asrc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/australia-vs-rest-world-refugees-asylum-seekers___.pdf >

Blake, S 2013, ‘Liberal Fiona Scott links asylum seekers to Sydney traffic problems’, News.com.au, 3rd September, viewed 22nd May 2014, < http://www.news.com.au/national/liberal-fiona-scott-links-asylum-seekers-to-sydney-traffic-problems/story-fnho52ip-1226709650526 >

Salazar, J 2012, ‘Digital Stories and emerging citizens media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney, Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media and Communication, no. 7.