List of recommendations from the Interim report: protecting Australians
from the threat of asbestos
2.49 The committee recommends that through the Council of Australian
Governments, the Australian Government pursue a coordinated and consistent
whole of government approach to strengthen federal and state legislation and
regulations to address the illegal importation of asbestos.
2.50 The committee recommends that the Australian Government adequately fund
the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency so it is able to deliver the next
National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness and to carry out
its other functions, both current functions and new functions set out in
recommendations in this report.
2.62 The committee recommends that the Department of Immigration and Border
Protection and Australian Border Force undertake an external review of their
industry consultation arrangements with a view to strengthen and formalise the
contribution from stakeholders. Ideally, these should be through formal
meetings on a regular basis with those who are on the front line who are
adversely impacted by illegal asbestos importation.
2.87 The committee recommends that the Australian Government continue to
strongly advocate for the listing of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III of the
Rotterdam Convention and support a change in the voting rules if required for
this to be achieved.
2.88 The committee recommends that in the event that the Australian
Government is unsuccessful in listing of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III at
the 2019 Rotterdam Convention, the Australian Government should consider
pursuing bilateral or multilateral asbestos treaties with importation
disclosure requirements equivalent to an Annex III listing.
2.89 The committee recommends that the Australian Government in its course
of the regular review of free trade agreements with other countries, include in
the review provisions regarding asbestos containing materials.
2.90 The committee recommends that the Australian Government continue its
support for asbestos bans internationally and promotes awareness of the risks
of asbestos in the Asia-Pacific region.
3.26 The committee recommends that the Australian Government require
mandatory Asbestos Awareness Training for a wide range of occupations in the
construction industry and provide adequate funding for nationally accredited
training for this purpose.
3.37 The committee recommends that the Department of Immigration and Border
Protection and Australian Border Force consider the merits of developing and
implementing a comprehensive education campaign for all importers of the risk
and responsibilities regarding asbestos containing materials and the definition
of asbestos containing materials used in other countries.
3.38 The committee recommends that the Asbestos Safety and Eradication
Agency develop a one-stop-shop website to provide single point for participants
across the supply chain to access information regarding the illegal importation
3.64 The committee recommends that the Australian Government review the
Australian Border Force staff resourcing required to effectively monitor and
prevent the illegal importation of asbestos.
3.65 The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider the
merits of having a specialist unit within Australian Border Force to manage
illegal asbestos importation.
3.87 The committee recommends that the Australian Government review the Customs
Act 1901 (and other relevant legislation) to address the challenges of
enforcing the existing importation of asbestos offence, with the aim to close
loopholes and improve the capacity of prosecutors to obtain convictions against
entities and individuals importing asbestos. This review should include
consideration of increasing the threshold required to use 'mistake of fact' as
a legal defence.
3.88 The committee recommends that the Australian Government prioritise
prosecution of illegal asbestos importation cases.
3.89 The committee recommends that the Australian Government review the
quantum of penalties for breaches of Australia's importation ban with a view to
4.19 The committee recommends that where an importer intends to import goods
that have been deemed high risk of containing asbestos, the Australian
Government require the importer, prior to the importation of the goods, to
conduct sampling and testing by a NATA accredited authority (or a NATA
equivalent testing authority in a another country that is a signatory to a
Mutual Recognition Arrangement).
4.20 The committee recommends that the Government examine the European
Union's regulations and processes for testing of products for asbestos prior to
import and determine if it is suitable to adapt them to benefit and enhance
4.36 The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider
placing additional mandatory requirements on procurers of high-risk products to
have a due diligence system in place for the prevention of the import and use
of asbestos containing materials.
4.40 The committee recommends that other states and territories pass similar
legislation to Queensland's Building and Construction Legislation
(Non-conforming Building Products—Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters)
Amendment Act 2017.
4.60 The committee recommends that Commonwealth, state and territory
governments work together to develop nationally consistent legal obligations to
require the removal and/or disposal of illegally imported asbestos (if it is
safe to do so following consideration of the hazards likely to be faced by the
workers undertaking the work) and to make importers responsible for the cost of
such removal and/or disposal of asbestos.
4.64 The committee recommends that the Australian Government review and
clarify the role of the Federal Safety Commissioner with regards to asbestos
containing materials in building products in line with the Commissioner's
4.73 The committee recommends that the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission conducts compulsory recalls where asbestos is found in consumer
products, unless there are significant issues and risks associated with a compulsory
recall, noting that legislative change may be required.
4.74 In circumstances where the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission becomes aware of a product containing asbestos and subsequently
determines not to issue a compulsory recall of that product, the committee
recommends that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission shall within
thirty days of that decision publish a statement of reasons.
4.75 The committee recommends that the Australian Government review the
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's public reporting of asbestos
containing materials in consumer products, both in relation to informing the
public where there are risks to safety, and also monitoring and aggregating reporting
of incidents over time.
4.83 The committee recommends that the Australian Government establish a
national public asbestos register.
4.84 The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider the
merits of requiring importers and suppliers to hold mandatory recall insurance
for potential asbestos containing materials.
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