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CUSTOMS (PROHIBITED IMPORTS) AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2008 (NO. 2) (SLI NO 65 OF 2008)
Select Legislative Instrument 2008 No. 65
Issued by the Authority of the Minister for Home Affairs
Customs Act 1901
Customs (Prohibited Imports) Amendment Regulations 2008 (No. 2)
Subsection 270(1) of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act) provides, in part, that the Governor‑General may make regulations not inconsistent with the Act prescribing all matters which by the Act are required or permitted to be prescribed for giving effect to the Act.
Section 50 of the Act provides, in part, that the Governor-General may, by regulation, prohibit the importation of goods into Australia and that the power may be exercised by prohibiting the importation of goods absolutely or by prohibiting the importation of goods unless specified conditions or restrictions are complied with.
The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Principal Regulations) control the importation of the goods specified in the various regulations and Schedules, by prohibiting importation absolutely, or by making importation subject to a permission or licence.
The purpose of the Regulations is to extend the time during which the Department of Defence or the Australian Defence Force may import chrysotile (a type of asbestos). The Regulations also remove redundant items in the Principal Regulations and correct references made to occupational health and safety legislation.
Regulation 4C of the Principal Regulations restricts the importation of asbestos. In particular, subregulation 4C(3) prohibits the importation into Australia of chrysotile, or goods that contain chrysotile, subject to certain exceptions.
One such exception is where a State or Territory authority has confirmed that the proposed use of the chrysotile or goods containing chrysotile is in accordance with occupational health and safety laws of a State or Territory. Another is where the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (the SRC Commission) or the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority (the SSRC Authority) has confirmed that it has granted an exemption for the use of the chrysotile or goods.
Subregulation 4C(5) requires that a confirmation given by a relevant State or Territory authority, the SRC Commission, or the SSRC Authority, must state that the chrysotile is, or the goods are, for a use mentioned in Schedule 3B to the Principal Regulations and the goods must be imported on or before the date mentioned in Schedule 3B for that use.
Item 4 of Schedule 3B to the Principal Regulations specifies the following use for which confirmation may be given: use by the Department of Defence or the Australian Defence Force of chrysotile in a part or component of a plant where the unavailability of the part or component prevents the plant from being available for use, the unavailability of the plant prevents a mission from being undertaken, and there is no reasonable alternative to the use of chrysotile. Such a part or component of a plant must be imported on or before 31 December 2007.
The Department of Defence has advised that it was not in a position before 31 December 2007 to replace all chrysotile products with safer alternatives as there are a number of parts or components of plant where non-chrysotile equivalents are not yet available and that an extension to the time to import such items was required.
The amendment extends the time specified in item 4 of Schedule 3B for which parts or components of plant covered by that item can be imported. The Department of Defence or the Australia Defence Force will be able to import such items from the commencement of the Regulations until 31 December 2010.
The amendments complement amendments made to the Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994 in September 2007 to extend the time, to 31 December 2010, that the Australian Defence Organisation may use chrysotile in mission critical items.
The Regulations also replace references, in regulation 4C of the Principal Regulations, to the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 and the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) (National Standards) Regulations 1994 with the Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994. The title of this Act and these Regulations were amended in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
The Regulations also remove redundant items 1, 2 and 3 from Schedule 3B to the Principal Regulations. Item 1 in Schedule 3B relates to the use of chrysotile in compressed asbestos fibre gaskets, item 2 in Schedule 3B relates to the use of chrysotile in vacuum pumps and compressors and item 3 in Schedule 3B relates to the use of chrysotile in a diaphragm for use in electrolytic cell in an existing electrolysis plant for chlor-alkali manufacture. As the prescribed deadlines for importing these items have expired, the Regulations remove these items from the Principal Regulations.
No consultation was undertaken specifically in relation to the Regulations as they are of a minor or machinery nature and do not substantially alter existing arrangements.
The Regulations commence on the day after they are registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.