Outline of the system
Under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (PI Regulations), the importation of asbestos, or goods containing asbestos, is subject to prohibition. The regulations empower the Work Health and Safety Minister (the WHS Minister) administering the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) to grant permission to import asbestos in certain circumstances.
Under the PI Regulations, the importation of asbestos, or goods containing asbestos, is prohibited unless:
(a) The asbestos or goods containing asbestos are hazardous waste as defined in Section 4 of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 (HW Act). Goods of this type must be imported in accordance with the provisions of the HW Act;
(b) The goods are raw materials containing naturally occurring traces of asbestos; or
(c) Permission has been granted by the WHS Minister for one or more of the following purposes:
i) in any case: research, analysis or display;
ii) if the importation is from and Australian external Territory: disposal in a mainland State or Territory; or
(d) A confirmation from an authority of an Australian State or Territory is in force stating that the proposed use of the asbestos or goods is research, analysis or display in accordance with WHS laws of that State or Territory; or
(e) The importation is of a ship or resources installation and all of the following apply:
i) of at least 150 gross tonnage as shown on the International Tonnage Certificate;
ii) the asbestos was installed or affixed before 1 January 2005;
iii) the asbestos in the ship or resources installation will not be a risk to any person unless it is disturbed.
Asbestos means the asbestiform varieties of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine or amphibole groups of rock forming minerals including the following:
(a) actinolite asbestos;
(b) grunerite (or amosite) asbestos (brown);
(c) anthophyllite asbestos;
(d) chrysotile asbestos (white);
(e) crocidolite asbestos (blue);
(f) tremolite asbestos;
(g) a mixture that contains one or more of the minerals referred to in paragraphs (a) to (f).
Nature of licensing
If Automatic, administrative purpose
If Non-Automatic, description of the notified Non-Automatic Licensing regime
Products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports
The importation of all forms of asbestos is regulated as a community and workplace safety measure. The importation of asbestos is subject to prohibition to reduce and prevent occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos fibres, and the possible adverse health outcomes attributed to these exposures. In addition to the prohibition of the importation of asbestos, the use of asbestos is prohibited in all Australian state, territory and Commonwealth work health and safety regulations. The import prohibition applies to all goods that contain asbestos regardless of their value.
Questions for products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports
The system applies to products originating from which country?
The regulations apply to the importation of goods from all countries.
Expected duration of licensing procedure
Is the licensing statutorily required?
The control on importation of asbestos and goods containing asbestos is a statutory requirement under Regulation 4C of the PI Regulations made under the Customs Act 1901.
Does the legislation leave designation of products to be subject to licensing to administrative discretion?
Eligibility of applicants
Is there a system of registration of persons or firms permitted to engage in importation?
What persons or firms are eligible to apply for a licence?
All persons, firms and institutions are eligible to apply for permission to import asbestos.
Is there a registration fee?
Is there a published list of authorized importers?
Contact point for information on eligibility
Submission of an application
Administrative body(ies) for submission of an application
What information is required in applications?
For permission to import, applications must be made in writing to the WHS Minister or to the CEO of the Agency. The application should include the following information:
•importer's name, address and phone number, as well as those details for a representative;
•details of the asbestos or goods containing asbestos to be imported including the reason or purpose for the importation, where the asbestos or goods containing asbestos are to be imported from, and the amount of asbestos intended to be imported;
•details of the procedures to be used to package, label, handle, transport and dispose of the goods, including whether they are compliant with relevant laws;
•where applicable – evidence that a laboratory where research will be undertaken has appropriate accreditation;
•where applicable – that relevant WHS regulator approval has been obtained;
•an assurance the applicant will comply with relevant Commonwealth and State/territory legislation relating to the use, handling, transport, and disposal of asbestos.
What documents is the importer required to supply with the application?
Relevant information for applicants is available at the website of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (Australian Government) https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/.
Window of submission of an application
How far in advance of importation must application for a licence be made?
Permission to import must be obtained before shipment to Australia.
Are there any limitations as to the period of the year during which application for licence can be made? If so, explain
Permission to import may be granted at any period of the year.
Issuing the license
Can a licence be granted immediately on request?
A request for permission to import asbestos can be made at any time by writing to the Minister administering the WHS Act, or to the CEO of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency who is authorised by Ministerial instrument to grant permission in some instances. Upon consideration of the request, the Minister or authorised person will reply to the applicant.
Can licences be obtained within a shorter time-limit or for goods arriving at the port without a licence
Which administrative body is responsible for approving application of licences?
Consideration of licence applications is effected by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (the Agency). The Agency consults with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), which has responsibility for the WHS Act. The WHS Minister is briefed by the Agency or the DEWR in relation to applications that are complex or not routine in nature. Otherwise, the delegated decision maker is the CEO of the Agency.
Permission to import may be granted for a one-off import or for an ongoing period, as decided by the WHS Minister or CEO of the Agency.
Must the applications be passed on to other organs for visa, note or approval?
Are there any other conditions attached to the issue of a licence?
The WHS Minister or authorised person may only grant permission to import asbestos:
- in any case, for the purpose of research, analysis or display, or
- in the case of (Australian) external territories, for disposal on the mainland.
Permission to import asbestos is granted conditional on it only being for one or more of these purposes, as specified in the permission letter. The WHS Minister or authorised person has discretion to attach other conditions, such as compliance with relevant laws in relation to asbestos.
Conditions are to ensure compliance with the asbestos border control and to reduce the risk of exposure of asbestos fibres to humans from the asbestos in the goods.
Fees and other administrative charges
Is there any licensing fee or administrative charge?
What is the amount of the fee or charge?
Is there any deposit or advance payment required associated with the issue of licences?
Amount or rate?
Is it refundable?
What is the period of retention?
What is the purpose of this requirement?
Refusal of an application
Under what circumstances may an application for a licence be refused other than failure to meet the ordinary criteria?
Applications for permission to import asbestos are risk-assessed on a case by case basis. The act of applying for permission does not guarantee permission will be granted.
Are the reasons for any refusal given to applicants?
Have applicants a right of appeal in the event of refusal to issue a licence?
There are no specific appeal provisions in relation to asbestos available under the PI Regulations.
If so, to what bodies and under what procedures?
However, an appeal may be made on the decision-making process itself under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.
Are there any limitations as to the period of year during which importation may be made?
Permission to import may be granted at any period of the year.
What documents are required upon actual importation?
The import permission of the relevant Minister or authorised person is to be available for presentation to the ABF at the point of importation. Asbestos must be declared as present in the goods when lodging the import entry.
Are there any other administrative procedures, apart from import licensing and similar administrative procedures, required prior to importation?
In some states a person is required to seek permission to use asbestos from the relevant WHS regulator. It is a requirement that permission be sought prior to the granting of import permission.
Conditions of licensing
What is the period of validity of a licence? Can the validity be extended? How?
The WHS Minister and authorised person (CEO of the Agency) have discretion as to the period of validity of a permission. Import permissions are single use or they may be for ongoing use, for a period specified in the permission letter depending on the applicant's requirements.
Is there any penalty for the non-utilization of a licence or a portion of a licence?
Are licences transferable between importers? If so, are any limitations or conditions attached to such transfer?
Is foreign exchange automatically provided by the banking authorities for goods to be imported?
Is a licence required as a condition to obtaining foreign exchange?
Is foreign exchange always available to cover licences issued?
What formalities must be fulfilled for obtaining the foreign exchange?