Regulation and Compliance – Australia

A robust and comprehensive system

Australia’s cotton industry is regulated by highly stable government and a strict legislative framework applied at federal, state and local government levels. Government agencies and industry organizations also work to implement regulations and ensure compliance.

Legislation at the local, state and federal levels influences the way cotton farms operate, and the Australian cotton industry’s myBMP program includes checklist items for all legal requirements in relation to cotton production.

Legislation affects all aspects of operations, including but not limited to:

  • Recruitment and conditions of employment for staff and contractors and the protection of their safety and wellbeing in the workplace
  • Minimum rates of pay
  • Management of irrigation water from dams and underground supplies including licencing of all growers that limits extractions and requires strict metering and monitoring
  • Storage and handling of pesticides and petrochemicals on-farm including strict, legally binding label requirements
  • Licencing arrangements for access and use of transgenic traits including strict planting windows and methods to control resistance
  • Management of trees and native vegetation including restrictions on clearing and the protection of threatened and endangered species
  • Standards for transporting farm machinery and cotton modules on public roads


The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) approves and monitors the use of biotechnology, and the Australian Pest and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) regulates the registration and use of pesticides. Other legislative and monitoring agencies include the Federal Departments of Environment, Agriculture and Employment, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), State Environmental Protection Authorities, the Fair Work Ombudsman and Safe Work Australia.

Protecting workers and children

Australia’s workers are protected by workplace health and safety, discrimination and labour laws and regulations. Domestically, this strong legislative framework (Fair Work Act, 2009) ensures children are not engaged in child labour. Australia is also engaged in international efforts to combat exploitative child labour practices, primarily through the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as well as through the United Nations and the activities of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Australian Government is currently looking to introduce a Modern Day Slavery Act that will directly affect some cotton businesses in Australia.

Protecting the environment

Legislation protects Australia’s natural resources, including soils, plants, animals and waterways at farm and catchment levels. Biotechnology is strictly regulated and monitored by government, with traits only introduced after extensive laboratory and on-farm trials. The types and uses of chemicals, the timing and location of cotton plantings, and access to water are all subject to strict government controls.

The Australian cotton industry’s myBMP (Best Management Practices) program includes compulsory checklist items for all legislation relating to cotton production. This allows Australia’s cotton farmers to ensure they are legally compliant, and the program provides links to the relevant legislation along with resources and support to implement practice change where required.

Accountability Down the Chain

Explore the research and resources we’ve pulled this information from.