Illegal importation of products containing asbestos

Illegal importation of products containing asbestos

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Recommendation 8 called for the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) (Customs Act) to be reformed in a manner which facilitates a greater number of successful prosecutions of entities and individuals that illegally import asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACM). The recommendation in part responded to additional term of reference (asbestos) (c)(i) of the Inquiry, which enquires into possible improvements to the current regulatory frameworks for ensuring products containing asbestos are not illegally imported to Australia, with particular reference to the effectiveness of enforcement and restrictions and penalties imposed on importers of products containing asbestos.

Widespread suffering and death due to historical industrial use of asbestos has shaped Australia’s hard line stance in respect of asbestos. In 2003, Australia imposed a strict prohibition on the sale, use and import of asbestos. The strictness of the Australian prohibition is almost unique: firstly, because it relates to all forms of asbestos, but chrysotile and other forms are not internationally recognised as dangerous; and secondly, because it requires nil asbestos content in all goods, where most customs administrations apply standards that provide for a maximum allowable limit of asbestos content.[1] The strict prohibition reflects established community standards in Australia that there is no acceptable level of risk in respect of asbestos.

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[1] KGH Border Services, Asbestos Importation Review Report, Reference No. 1600018, March 2016 (KGH Review), 5.

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