Tougher laws needed to enforce asbestos importation ban

Tougher laws needed to enforce asbestos importation ban

The lives of Australian workers and members of the community are being placed at risk by exposure to imported products containing asbestos.

Unions and asbestos support groups will meet Government and Opposition MPs in Canberra today to call for bi-partisan support for more resources and better enforcement of Australia’s ban on asbestos imports.

Despite being banned, asbestos has recently been found in car parts, boilers, construction materials, trains, tugboats and children’s toys imported into Australia.

In a recent case, a boiler made in South Korea was identified as containing chrysotile asbestos six years after it had been imported.

Many of these products are making their way to Australia via internet sites, such as eBay, from Russia and China where there is no ban on asbestos.

Unions and asbestos support groups are calling for tougher enforcement of Australia’s ban on asbestos including:

  • an investigation into incidences of asbestos importation into Australia;
  • tougher laws to ensure people and businesses breaching the importation ban are prosecuted;
  • more money and staff for Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to crackdown on illegal asbestos imports;
  • the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, to make stopping the importation of products containing asbestos a priority for Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick:

“Asbestos has already killed many thousands of Australians and sadly the full impact of asbestos-related diseases is not expected to peak until 2020.”     

“The Abbott Government must urgently provide greater resources to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to ensure they are equipped to enforce the ban on asbestos.”

“We need tougher action and more resources to ensure those who flout the bans on asbestos importation are prosecuted.”

“If nothing is done to crack down on the importation of products containing asbestos, the lives of more Australians will be placed at risk.”