Federal government urged to ratify mercury treaty

By Melissa Coade

Thursday September 2, 2021

The joint standing committee on treaties recommends Australia implement the global framework for controlling mercury.
The joint standing committee on treaties recommends Australia implement the global framework for controlling mercury. (marcel/Adobe)

A report has been tabled in parliament by the joint standing committee on treaties, recommending that the Australian government ratify a treaty that implements a global framework for controlling mercury.

Ratifying the Minamata Convention is an important step for Australia to recognise the global public health dangers posed by mercury, committee chair Dave Sharma said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The report said that the convention contains measures to limit emissions of the toxic pollutant, which has a dangerous capacity for ‘long-range atmospheric transport’.

Sharma said since mercury is a toxic element that cannot be destroyed, there is no safe level of exposure to mercury. 

Along with the committee, he called on the government to also consider reassessing its decision to seek an exemption allowing for high pressure mercury vapour (HPMV) lamps to be imported into Australia. 

“Industry is already transitioning away rapidly from HPMV lamps, and to seek such an exemption would place Australia in poor international company,” Sharma said. 

Other recommendations advanced by the committee include ratifying the OCCAR Managed Programmes Participation Agreement, concerning the coordination of armament programs in defence materiel acquisition.

“Ratification would benefit Australia through access to a global procurement network, economies of scale, shared expertise and risk reduction,” Sharma’s statement read.


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