25 September 2023

Asbestos importers to bite the dust

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New laws imposing stronger penalties for the importation of asbestos have been announced by the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton.

Importers who “knowingly or recklessly” import goods containing asbestos could now face up to five years’ jail.

Mr Dutton said that unlawfully bringing asbestos across Australia’s border was now a Tier One offence.

“This means those who import or export asbestos face the prospect of jail time following a successful prosecution,” Mr Dutton said.

“These changes will help to ensure our communities are protected from the unlawful importation of asbestos materials into the future.”

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, Kelly O’Dwyer said that while Australia had had a strict asbestos importation ban in place since 2003, some importers attempted to bring goods containing asbestos into Australia illegally.

“Tragically, 4,000 people each year die from asbestos-related diseases. This figure is far too high,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

“In boosting the regulations we are sending a strong, unequivocal message to importers — we will not tolerate the importation of asbestos.”

Mr Dutton said the changes would also assist the communities of the Australian External Territories by allowing the lawful movement of asbestos waste to the mainland for disposal in a licensed facility.

“This is a small but important part of cleaning up our own backyard of the asbestos legacy that exists in these small, pristine environments,” Mr Dutton said.

“Other regulation changes will assist industry by simplifying the classification of asbestos-containing materials to better align Australia’s border regulations with work, health and safety laws.”

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