Urgent attention required for new Chain of Responsibility laws

The following is an excerpt from an article was published on 8th May 2017 by Travis Brooks-Garrett, partner at Freight & Trade Alliance.

“LAST year the Queensland Government passed the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, to be incorporated into the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

This Act of Parliament from our northern state has a profound effect on the Chain of Responsibility requirements nationally with all states and territories, except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, covered under the changes.  The amendments recast the duties and liabilities of consignor/consignees, schedulers and operators, loading managers, loaders and packers, unloaders, who are all considered to have a primary duty of care under the new legislations, with executive officers facing ‘due diligence’ obligations in ensuring compliance.  Safety is no longer the exclusive domain of those responsible for the transport task. While industry was given an 18-month implementation period, it is a monumental shift and industry needs to be aware, and service providers need to start educating their clients and suppliers, before the new legislation takes full effect.

What does this mean in practical terms?  As an importer, do my delivery requirements encourage my transport operator to speed or drive while fatigued?  Have I ensured my loads are properly restrained?  As a forwarder, have I provided reliable weight information to the transport operator?  In the words of one wise Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) member, “there should be a focus on safety before any commercial considerations such as product damage or ease of unloading”.

With the change in requirements comes the changes to the penalty and compliance regimes, which are to be re-aligned to better reflect the existing OH&S legislation.  Breaches may receive a maximum fine of $3m for a corporation, or a personal fine of $300,000 or a five-year imprisonment, or both.  Commendably, the new laws will also introduce “enforceable undertakings” as a compliance option, meaning a party who breaches the law may enter into an agreement with the regulator committing to address the areas of non-compliance.  In the event of a serious breach the regulator will have increased powers to obtain documents and information during an investigation.

This new legislation is all about eliminating risk through business controls, a common theme that has featured in many recent Government reforms. Risk detection has been replaced by “positive duty”, an approach that is more proactive and can be customised to the risk profile of your business and your role in the freight task.  Strong employee training and robust business systems and processes are the bedrock of this approach.”

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Asbestos – not just in car parts

In a post on June 7, 2016 I alerted readers to a case where imported, counterfeit, car parts were found to contain asbestos. Asbestos is, under Australian law, a strictly prohibited import and export and requires special permission from the Australian Government for anyone wishing to deal in this deadly product.

When processing import declarations on behalf of importers, Customs brokers are required to answer a series of community protection questions designed to filter out items that might contain asbestos. The Australian Border Force (“ABF”) have expanded the range of tariff classifications (HS codes) to which questions relating to asbestos content are linked. In recent discussions between the ABF and the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (“CBFCA”), the ABF re-iterated their position when it comes to asbestos.

In a nutshell, the OWNER of the goods must be CERTAIN that the goods do not contain ANY asbestos – there must be ZERO asbestos content. How can an owner be certain? By having the goods tested by a testing authority recognised by the National Association of Testing Authorities (“NATA”) in Australia (for goods intended for export) or by a testing authority recognised by an overseas body of similar standing to NATA. Further information about testing authorities can be found on the NATA website.

There is also a wealth of information on the ABF website here, which includes a list of those items considered high risk of containing asbestos.

© Lighthouse Agencies Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Beware of counterfeit car parts – they might contain asbestos

The following article is provided courtesy of the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA).

A recent Media Report from the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) revealed the importation of counterfeit car parts into Australia, some of which contain asbestos.

ASEA recently presented at CBFCA Regional Conventions around Australia to highlight the growing concern in relation to such imports and to educate industry members to assist them to help their importer clients to comply with the prohibition on importing asbestos.

The importation into Australia of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) is strictly prohibited except under very limited circumstances. Australian law has zero tolerance for asbestos or ACMs. Responsibility lies with the importer for ensuring goods are asbestos-free prior to importation.

Goods imported into Australia (without an exemption) can attract fines (at the time of writing) of up to AUD 170,000.00 or three (3) times the value of the goods, whichever is greater.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) also reaffirmed in their presentations an intensifying of their efforts to address the risk of asbestos in imported goods, especially in building products and children’s toys.

To the view the article about how the ASEA found out about the asbestos in the counterfeit parts, please see here.

Information on Australian standards can be found on the National Association of Testing Authorities website.

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New Year, new website

It’s a New Year and to celebrate the occasion we have updated our website.

It is now mobile friendly so it should render on any of your devices, whether desktop, notebook/laptop, tablet or mobile ‘phone. Some of the links on the Business Links page had either out of date taxonomy or the links were broken, so that page has also been fixed.

Enjoy the new look!

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DoA Biosecurity impose mandatory inspections on break-bulk cargo

Advice has been received this afternoon that the Department of Agriculture Biosecurity division (DoA Biosecurity) has instituted a system of mandatory inspections on ALL break-bulk cargo (motor vehicles, machinery, etc.) loaded at the US ports of Savannah or Baltimore.

This action is effective immediately and will affect all such cargo discharging from today onwards at ANY Australian port, until further notice.

The reason for this action by DoA Biosecurity is due to recent significant interception of hitchhiker pests, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs and Asian Lady Beetles. All cargo will be subject to full inspection and treatment where necessary. Fees for service will be charged in acordance with normal DoA Biosecurity charging guidelines.

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Free Trade Agreements – Update

The Korea – Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) entered into force on 12 December, 2014.

Further information can be found on the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service website here.

The Australian Government has announced that the Japan – Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) will enter into force on 15 January, 2015.

Further information can be found on the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service website here.

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Russian bans on agricultural imports

The Department of Agriculture today released advice on the situation for Australian exports to Russia of agricultural products as a result of the bans introduced by Russian president, Vladimir Putin on 6th August, 2014:

“On 6 August 2014, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed a Presidential Decree on the ‘Application of Certain Special Economic Measures in order to protect the National Security of the Russian Federation’.

This Decree imposes immediate bans, for one year, on imports of specified agricultural products originating from countries including Australia, US, EU, Norway and Canada.

Current status
The Australian Government is currently working to assess the impact of the Russian Federation ban on imports of certain agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from Australia.

The immediate focus is to manage those exports that are currently at sea or in transit to Russian markets and assist exporters in redirecting them, wherever possible, to alternative destinations.”

The media release goes on to set out details of the HS (Harmonised System, an international numbering convention that provides consistent identification of goods) codes for the products affected, and provides further information for Australian exporters about what to do for goods currently in transit. The situation is unclear for goods which have already left Australia and the Department is urgently seeking clarification via their overseas resources. The Department will release further information as soon as possible.

The full text of the advice and further information can be found here.

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K Line Rate Restoration, effective 15 August 2014

K Line advise that effective from 15th August, 2014, they will introduce another rate restoration programme to restore freight rates to a viable level.

This rate restoration will affect all dry and reefer containers from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The additional amount will be US$200 per TEU. The date of issue of the bill of lading will be the date that determines whether or not the increase applies.

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Department of Agriculture undertakes verification inspections for certain commodities from China

In a previous article, I referred readers to the Department of Agriculture Biosecurity advice of increased surveillance of timber packaging materials originating in China.

The Department of Agriculture Biosecurity division released Notice to Industry 63/2014 advising they are now undertaking a short term verification inspection programme targeting commercial goods falling under Harmonised tariff headings 2514, 2515, 2516, 6801, 6802 and 6809.

The Department recently intercepted some pallets that were found to be infested with Asian longhorn beetle, the brown mulberry longhorn beetle, and the Japanese sawyer beetle. All of these are considered significant pests of living trees. The concern is that the pallets were all marked with the treatment identification code ISPM15 HT and supporting documents were provided which confirmed treatment had occurred.

The programme will run for 3 weeks from late June 2014.

In order to minimise the impact on importers:
– Inspections will take place at the importers premises or a location nominated by the importer.
– Goods may be removed from shipping containers; however all goods and packaging must be isolated awaiting inspection.
– No inspection fees will be issued, however normal document processing fees will apply.

The Department is particularly interested in identifying wooden packaging material displaying signs of insect damage or ineffective treatment.

In addition, importers that discover any suspect materials (even materials already imported and in the importer’s premises) should immediately notify the Department via 1800 19 55 43

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