News & Current Affairs |




17 October 2018


The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has hit out at Minister Peter Dutton for yet another failure of his department to prosecute importers of deadly asbestos.


AMWU National President Andrew Dettmer said that Peter Dutton has his priorities all wrong when it comes to border security.


“Minister Dutton is quick to act on behalf of his mate’s au pairsbut has gone missing on punishing companies for illegalasbestosimports.”, said Mr Dettmer.


Hehas sent a clearsignal; it’s open season in Australia for asbestos imports.”


Under Federal lawit is the responsibility of an importer to ensure that asbestos is not brought into Australia.


Mr Dettmer said there were too many cases of asbestos being imported into Australia in a range of finished products or in building materials but without prosecutions, there was little or no incentive for importers to take the law seriously.


He was commenting on reports that Adelaide company Australian Portable Camps had imported 8070 cement sheets in 2010 and 2011. A Border Force investigation had not resulted in a prosecution.


The failure to prosecute Australian Portable Camps comes just weeks after it was revealed that a company owned by Andrew Forrest would also not be prosecuted for illegal asbestos imports in their trains.


“Asbestos is a major health risk for the community and without the threat of prosecution importers will take advantage of our lax enforcement regime,” Mr Dettmer said.


“We need a more robust approach to combatting asbestos imports and if the authorities can’t find enough evidence to launch a prosecution then the law needs to be toughened to make sure importers are held to account in the courts,” he said.


“How is Australia ever going to get on top of this serious international problem if Federal authorities fail to take action?”


“It is a matter of grave risk to the public if they are exposed to asbestos and the concept of whether importers ‘knowingly or unknowingly’ brought asbestos into Australia doesn’t alter the outcome for victims.”


“The Federal Government makes a lot of noise about protecting our borders, yet it allows one of the world’s most deadly substances into Australia without even a slap on the wrist for importers.”


“The failure to prosecute in this case demonstrates that Border Force is a toothless tiger and the law is deficient, full of loopholes that need to be plugged.”


“Peter Dutton needs to address this issue as a matter of urgency.”


Media contact John Hill 0412197079