The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has recently released the Asbestos Importation Review Report, which provided several recommendations to improve the existing management process in asbestos importation.
The report found the department’s overall management of asbestos border control is effective. It also acknowledged that the responsibility of managing and enforcing asbestos regulations and controls in Australia is shared across the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.
ABF Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg said they are now considering the recommendations and how it can be implemented.
“Australia is one of the few countries that have a total ban on asbestos and stopping contaminated products before or at the border is a priority for the ABF and the Department,” he said.
“We will use these recommendations to ensure our management of Australia’s asbestos border control reflects best practice.”
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has a different reaction to the report saying the Turnbull government had put the safety of Queensland construction workers in jeopardy by keeping the report a secret for months.
“Now we know why Peter Dutton has been hiding this report for so long – it shows he has failed in his role as Border Protection Minister,” said Ms. Grace.
“Mr. Dutton’s lack of action on this issue is unacceptable and to make matters worse, he’s leaving Queensland to fend for itself.
“He has shown a lack of action in stopping the importation of asbestos, a lack of action in enforcing a ban which has been in place in this country since 2003, and a lack of action in prosecuting illegal importers.”
She said this is in stark contrast to the Palaszczuk Government’s zero tolerance asbestos approach.
“We target the immediate removal of asbestos-containing materials when detected and pursue prosecutions where possible.
“It shouldn’t be up to us to fix the Turnbull Government’s mess, yet that’s exactly what we have to do because Peter Dutton won’t do his job properly.”
Last month, Ms. Grace wrote a letter to Mr. Dutton demanding the immediate release of the report following two serious asbestos incidents. She is also calling on Mr. Dutton to change Commonwealth legislation to increase the fine level of $180,000 for importing asbestos-containing material.
“Neither Queensland nor anywhere else in Australia should be a dumping ground for cheap and illegal asbestos-containing products,” said Ms. Grace.
“I’m calling on the federal government to work with China to educate suppliers about Australian laws to save Australian and Chinese workers’ lives.
“It’s a sad day when new buildings, once asbestos free, can no longer be guaranteed to be free of this deadly product.
“But it’s not just buildings that are affected, with deadly asbestos also being detected in items such as children’s crayons and motor vehicle spare parts.
“Peter Dutton talks tough about people smugglers. Now he needs to get tough on importers who bring deadly asbestos-containing materials into the country.”