Asbestos Importation Review findings released (NNF 2016/097)

Amid recent increased media attention regarding the use of asbestos affected materials supplied by the Chinese company 'Yuanda' found in the Perth Children's Hospital, a major construction site in Brisbane (which led to its closure) as well as on two key government-funded building projects in Adelaide, an independent review has finally been released many months after the Minister received it.

An independent review has found that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s overall management of asbestos border control is effective.

The review analysed the current end-to-end border processes for asbestos and found that this management was effective; but identified opportunities for organisational and technical improvements.

The review also examined the DIBP’s engagement with industry and other government agencies and identified opportunities for enhanced engagement. 

The CBFCA has communicated throughout the year and through presentations by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) at your regional conventions to highlight the impact of this silent killer.
The following information has been provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and is forwarded for your attention.

"Today, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) has released the Asbestos Importation Review Report. The independent review, conducted by KGH Border Services AB, analysed the end-to-end border processes and procedures for asbestos border control.

Stopping dangerous goods like asbestos, before or at the border, is a priority. The review was commissioned as part of our approach to continuous improvement in our border management practices, and in helping to keep Australians safe from harmful materials entering the country.

The review found that the Department’s management of this border control was effective, while identifying opportunities for organisational and technical improvements. Implementation of the review’s recommendations will further strengthen the Department’s management of Australia’s asbestos border controls and reflect best practice.

The review recognised that the responsibility for the management and enforcement of asbestos regulations and controls in Australia is shared across the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. The Department also works closely with industry and international agencies to mitigate risks of asbestos being imported and to enhance cooperation.

Importers of goods are responsible for ensuring their goods do not contain asbestos and having a thorough understanding of their supply chain. Australia is one of the few countries that has a total ban on asbestos. Many other countries still produce and use asbestos in their products.

Risk assessments are conducted on all cargo imported to Australia, with cargo identified as high-risk being physically examined. Where asbestos is suspected in a shipment, the importer will be required to arrange sampling, testing and certification by an asbestos hygienist to ensure there is no asbestos present. The arrangement and cost of any independent inspection, testing and storage of the goods is the responsibility of the importer.

We are continuing to investigate and prosecute potential breaches of import laws relating to asbestos. If importers seek to import a product containing asbestos, they risk losing their goods, losing money, and possibly receiving a criminal conviction. Offences relating to asbestos can attract fines of up to $180,000 for individuals or three times the value of the goods, whichever is the greater. Companies can face fines of up to $900,000 or three times the value of the goods.

There are currently six active investigations underway into asbestos importation related matters.

Recently, Australian Border Force investigators executed warrants in connection with Yuanda Australia, who are suspected of illegally importing Chinese building products containing asbestos.

In the interest of transparency, we are publicly releasing the report in full, with some minor redactions made to protect details of our targeting methods.

The Asbestos Importation Review Report is available on the Department’s website."

Click HERE to view the article ‘No time’ to stop imports of asbestos: border guards by Andrew Burrell, The Australian, 4 August 2016.