Section 61 of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 requires the minister to prepare a report on the operation of the Act for each financial year. This section meets the reporting requirements for 2019–20.
In 2019–20 we submitted an annual report on Australia’s implementation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention) to the convention’s secretariat. The annual report for 2018 is on the Basel Convention website.
The Act requires the import, export or transit of hazardous waste to be approved by the minister or their delegate through a permitting system.
In 2019–20, the minister (or their delegate) granted 33 permits, and one permit was refused. All notices relating to permit applications and decisions are published on our website.
Compliance and enforcement
We work with Australian Border Force to prevent illegal exports of hazardous waste.
In 2019–20, we received 5 referrals from the Australian Border Force or another federal, state or territory agency. At 30 June 2020 there were 8 matters under active investigation.
We continued to develop strategic intelligence products in relation to hazardous waste to improve our understanding of the nature and extent of hazardous waste exports.
In January 2020 a court hearing was undertaken relating to an investigation of 3 shipments of waste lithium-ion batteries exported by Sims E-Recycling. The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions accepted a brief of evidence on 24 February 2017. The matter was heard at the Parramatta District Court on 19–22 March 2019.
On 22 March 2019, the defence made a 'no case' submission. The motion was heard on 8 July 2019 and the magistrate upheld the submission.
A costs hearing occurred on 19 September 2019. In January 2020 the parties agreed to a figure of $600,000.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
In 2019–20, one application for a review of a decision was made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This matter is still under review and no date for a hearing has been set.
In 2019–20 we collected $538,837 in permit application fees under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) (Fees) Regulations 1990.
Section 58E of the Act establishes the Hazardous Waste Technical Group. The minister must consult this group on any proposed new regulations about the definition of hazardous waste and on evidentiary certificates issued under the Act. In 2019–20 the minister did not consult the technical group as no relevant new regulations were proposed and no evidentiary certificates were issued over this period.