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A joint operation by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) and Australian Border Force (ABF) has led to the seizure of over $200,000 worth of refrigeration equipment imported without a licence.

ABF officers seized 100 packages in Melbourne in May 2021 after a tip-off that the Victorian-based importer did not have the required licence under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.

The equipment was imported with certificates stating that refrigerant gas controlled under Section 13 of the Act had been removed from the equipment, allowing the items to be imported without a licence.

DAWE compliance officers in conjunction with ABF officers inspected the equipment and found that a significant portion still contained controlled hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant gases.

In a statement, the federal government said it takes attempts to evade the import licensing requirements of the ozone protection laws very seriously.

“Importers are reminded to ensure they have the correct import licences in place before attempting to bring these items into the country. Without the correct licenses it can be a costly mistake for importers,” the statement said.

Import licensing requirements are in place under Australia’s laws to protect the ozone layer and climate systems.

In October 2020, a company was issued the largest ever fine by DAWE under Australia’s strict ozone protection laws, with a company ordered to pay a civil penalty of $500,000 for contravention of Section 13(1) of the Act.

Contravention of Section 13 of the Act can result in civil penalties of up to $2.22 million.

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