A New South Wales-based importer has been fined $12, 600 by the Department of Environment and Energy for importing vehicles with air conditioning units containing a common refrigerant gas without an appropriate licence.
The importer also incurred significant warehousing costs and business delays for its failure to obtain an appropriate licence before importation.
Synthetic greenhouse gases, such as refrigerant gases, damage the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.
The illegally imported goods contained a synthetic greenhouse gas which is 1430 times as potent in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
The import and manufacture of products containing these ozone depleting substances is prohibited in Australia, unless a licence or exemption is held.
In a statement the Department of Environment and Energy, warned that importers and customs brokers should check import requirements of ozone depleting substances or synthetic greenhouse gases, including when they are contained in equipment, before importing or exporting goods.
Adequate time should be allowed to apply for a licence or exemption if one is required, which may take up to 60 days.
"The Australian Government is committed to protecting the environment and the ozone layer. Australia is a signatory to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," the statement said.
"In cooperation with the Australian Border Force, the Department has monitoring and inspection arrangements in place to ensure compliance with the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and undertake enforcement activities where appropriate."
The maximum penalty for each offence of importation is $2.1 million.
For more information about the Act and licence requirements for importers and customs brokers, visit www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone.