Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Building Material Imports
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Australian Border Force (ABF) commissioner, Mr Roman Quaedvlieg has stated that the detection of imports of building and construction materials that contain asbestos has tripled over the past year,
(ii) the ABF has found 40 cargo shipments with asbestos-containing materials over the past 10 months – three times more than the detections in 2015-16,
(iii) the ABF has imposed only three financial penalties on companies for importing asbestos,
(iv) construction company Yuanda has admitted responsibility for importing asbestos-tainted building materials, which were subsequently used in the construction of Perth Children's Hospital, but has not faced any charges,
(v) CFMEU National Secretary, Mr Dave Noonan, has stated that, as it is impossible for the ABF to inspect every shipment entering the country, and companies that import materials that contain asbestos should be penalised, as such penalties would act as a deterrent against the import and use of the contaminated materials, and
(vi) the CFMEU Construction Division is considering imposing its own ban on building products from certain countries until the Government takes decisive action; and
(b) calls on the Government to take decisive action to ensure that no building materials containing asbestos are used in Australia.
The government opposes this motion on the basis that the motion contains a number of incorrect statements of fact and misquotes the Australian Border Force commissioner. The motion misquotes the ABF commissioner when it states that 'the detection of imports of building and construction materials that contain asbestos has tripled over the past year'. This is incorrect. Additionally, the motion states that 'the ABF has imposed only three financial penalties on companies for importing asbestos'. This is also incorrect. Preventing asbestos from crossing Australia's border is a priority for the government, and, through the Australian Border Force, we have significantly increased the efforts to stop goods containing asbestos from being imported into Australia through increased targeting and testing.
Question agreed to.