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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

GOVERNMENT STRENGTHENS SEA DUMPING LAWS




1 April 1999

The Federal Government is introducing tougher penalties including jail terms of up to ten years to stop illegal dumping of waste at sea.

Environment Minister Robert Hill said amendments to the Sea Dumping Act introduced into the Senate this week reinforced the Commonwealth's commitment to protect Australia's marine environment.

"The Bill substantially increases penalties for illegal sea dumping and the incineration of waste at sea," Senator Hill said.

"It sends a clear message to those who may be contemplating sea dumping as a cheap and easy way of getting rid of waste that it's not worth the risk.

"For example the offence of dumping radioactive material will now, for the first time, attract a prison term of up to ten years and a fine of up to $210,000 compared with about $50,000 previously. Corporations convicted of these offences will be liable for up to five times these penalties," he said.

The new legislation will mean that only seven types of waste will be able to be dumped in Australian waters including dredged material, sewage sludge, fish waste and other organic matter.

"Companies and individuals will first have to apply for a permit and demonstrate that they've considered other alternatives to sea dumping," Senator Hill said.

Media contact: Rod Bruem 02 6277760 or 04 1112 85 82

Commonwealth of Australia