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Australia ensures safe waste handling in the Pacific



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THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND THE MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONM ENT

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

FAlll 17 August 1998

AUSTRALIA ENSURES SAFE WASTE HANDLING IN THE PACIFIC

Australia is taking a lead role in ensuring that hazardous and radioactive waste handling in the Pacific region is safe and environmentally sound.

The Government has today ratified the Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management o f Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region, known as the Waigani Convention.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, says the Waigani Convention bans the export of hazardous or radioactive waste to Pacific Island countries.

"Movement of waste between Australia and Pacific Island countries is rare. However, the Convention does allow Australia to import waste from the Pacific Island countries for treatment, once the legislative requirements are met.

"By posing these restrictions, Australia and the Pacific Island countries are ensuring that the region does not become a dumping ground for unscrupulous waste handlers," Mr Downer said.

The Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, says it is envisaged Australia will use its expertise to help Pacific Island countries develop their own waste treatment and disposal facilities.

"The Convention ratification shows that Australia is committed to protecting the environment it shares with the Pacific Island countries.

"Australian industry and non-government environment groups were consulted on the treaty and have supported its ratification," Senator Hill said.

The Waigani Convention was signed by Australia on 16 September 1995 following approval by heads of government at the 1995 South Pacific Forum meeting held in Madang, Papua New Guinea. Australia is the fourth country to ratify the Convention, which will come into force after ten countries have done so.

Before ratification the Convention was subject to the Government’s treaty making procedures, including the preparation and tabling of a National Interest Analysis.

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer’s Office: Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500 Senator Hill’s Office: Matt Brown (02) 6277 7640 0419 693 515j yy* /? H ' /·% x r:'· t. v /- t v · .

Media releases and sp eec h e s are available from DFAT via the internet. http://www.dfat.gov.au/