Joint Media release
Joint Media release

Joint Media Release

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and Minister for the Environment and Heritage Dr David Kemp

21 May 2004 

Australia Ratifies Convention on Toxic Pollutants

Australia yesterday ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants which requires all Parties to phase out the use and manufacture of some of the most toxic chemicals on earth.

Persistent organic pollutants include nine highly dangerous pesticides still used in developing countries, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins and furans produced unintentionally as by-products of industrial combustion worldwide.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer said the Stockholm Convention entered into force globally on 17 May 2004 and Australia already had the necessary implementing legislation in place.

"Australia was among the first countries to sign the Convention in 2001," he said.

"This treaty will save lives and protect the natural environment. As well as banning the use of these toxic chemicals, the Convention focuses on cleaning up toxic dump sites from the '50s, '60s and '70s which are now leaking and poisoning water resources, wildlife and people in developing countries.

"While Australia is well-placed to give effect to the Convention because of the work we have done to phase out persistent organic pollutants, more work needs to be done to reduce our unintentional industrial emissions of dioxins and furans."

The Minster for the Environment and Heritage Dr David Kemp said Australia was in a good position to meet the nation's obligations under the Stockholm Convention with the success of programs such as ChemCollect and the National Strategy for the Management of Scheduled Wastes.

"I intend to establish a Stockholm Intergovernmental Forum for consultations with State and Territory Governments on developing Australia's National Plan of Implementation. The plan will also provide include broad community and industry input," he said.

"The Australian Government, through our Foreign Affairs, Health, Agriculture and Environment portfolios, worked hard in the development of the Convention . Now we will make every effort to eliminate and reduce these dangerous chemicals and emissions in our environment."

Australia also concurrently ratified the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.

Further information on the Stockholm Convention is on the DEH website: www.deh.gov.au/industry/chemicals/international/pop.html

Inquiries:  Chris Kenny (Mr Downer's office) 02 62777 500 - Mitch Catlin (Dr Kemp's Office) 02 62777 640