A Senate inquiry into the efficacy of the ban on asbestos importation has recommended 26 far-reaching changes to keep Australians safe and hold importers accountable, but the Turnbull Government has failed to adopt most of them.
The inquiry recommends harsher penalties for importers; compulsory recalls of products found containing asbestos; and the creation of a specialist unit within Border Force focused on stopping illegal asbestos imports.
The inquiry also recommends a review of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement to address the large amount of asbestos and asbestos-contaminated material being imported from China.
The Turnbull Government has failed to act on 20 of the 26 recommendations. This leaves loopholes that mean asbestos importers can go unpunished and working people and the public are left vulnerable to exposure to this deadly substance.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick:
“The Turnbull Government should stand up to big business and adopt these changes that will help stop asbestos flooding into Australia.
“The Government’s failure to adopt these 20 recommendations is woefully weak. It’s a missed opportunity for legislative reform to properly tackle illegal asbestos importation.
“The rules are broken. When importers bring asbestos or contaminated products to Australia they put working people and the public at risk. We have seen contaminated products end up in the Perth Children’s Hospital, in crayons and in quad bikes.”
“The enforcement of the asbestos ban is failing, we need to change the rules so that importers who bring asbestos or contaminated products into Australia are properly prosecuted.
“The Turnbull Government must do everything in its power to make sure that our customs system and trade deals are no exposing Australians to potentially lethal harm.”