Discoveries of imported asbestos as govt negotiates Indonesia deal

29 August 2016

More discoveries of dangerous imported Chinese asbestos in SA buildings have highlighted the need for greater controls to prevent workers from being exposed to the deadly substance.

ABC political reporter Angelique Donnellan writes that we will never know how much foreign asbestos is in the country undetected and will remain hidden. She writes: "It shouldn't have come to this. Imports of asbestos were banned in 2003. The fact it is here means either the laws aren't being enforced, or they are being deliberately flouted.”

Donnellan explains that China’s lower standards for asbestos are creating confusion, because “asbestos free” products in China can still contain quantities of asbestos. She advocates for more testing and greater penalties for Chinese exporters and Australian importers. Read her full piece here.

Recently the CFMEU wrote to Trade Minister Steve Ciobo calling for the suspension of free-trade agreement talks with India until there were better ­systems to stop dangerous imports.

We are also concerned about the government’s priority trade deal with Indonesia, where asbestos is still used in building materials. Asbestos exposure is deadly and greater controls must be put in place before further trade deals are signed.

Update: See also New cases for asbestos scare firm Yuanda, published in The Australian on September 7. (Behind a paywall)