The Liberal Morrison Government has moved to place controls on the export of the pesticide phorate, to meet Australia’s obligations under the Rotterdam Convention to ensure the pesticide is not exported to other countries who have not consented to the import.
On 9 July 2020, the Governor-General agreed to the recommendation from Assistant Minister for Customs, the Hon. Jason Wood MP to amend the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 to add the pesticide to Australia’s list of prohibited chemicals in Schedule 2 of those Regulations. This requires anyone seeking to export phorate to apply to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment for permission to export the chemical.
“While the unregulated use of chemicals such as phorate can cause health problems, when used appropriately through a well regulated system, they can also be valuable tools to industry,” Assistant Minister Wood said.
In addition to the health risks to agricultural workers, there have been reports of significant danger to wildlife following deaths of birds and mammals in Canada, the USA, the UK and Northern Ireland.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is the independent national regulator that assesses and registers agricultural chemicals such as phorate before they can be sold in Australia. It conducts rigorous scientific assessments of the potential risks that chemicals pose to human health, the environment and trade. Australia recognises that the use of chemicals can be managed safely in appropriate regulatory arrangements, such as through the APVMA, to ensure the protection of human health and the environment.
“Australia’s decision to list phorate as a prohibited export is to ensure the protection of workers and the environment that can arise from unregulated use. Australia continues to take its role in global chemical regulation seriously,” Assistant Minister Wood said.
The Department of Home Affairs will work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to implement this change came into force on 11 July 2020. The Rotterdam Convention is an agreement between more than 160 countries around the world to regulate dangerous chemicals and pesticides in order to protect people and the environment.
Australia ratified the Convention in May 2004.
Exporters requiring further information can contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Agvet Chemical Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org