Update 8: Australian ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for the Environment
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Minister,

RE: Australian ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

May I thank and congratulate you and the Government for now progressing Australia towards ratification of the Minamata Convention.

I note the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (Report #197) has recommended ratification and to discard any potential pursuit of an exemption for High Pressure Mercury Vapour (HPMV) lamps:

The Committee supports the Convention and recommends that binding treaty action be taken. The Committee recommends the Government reassess the need to seek an exemption to allow for the continued importation of HPMV lamps into Australia, considering such an exemption to be reputationally damaging and of limited practical benefit.[1]

Further, as per the transcript of the relevant Committee hearing, the only other countries seeking this type of exemption are Botswana, China, Ghana, India, Iran, Lesotho, Madagascar and Thailand.

The following exchange at the Committee hearing underlines the point:

CHAIR: Would it be correct to say that Australia is the only developed or OECD country that’s seeking an exemption to allow us to continue to import HPMV lighting?

Ms Douglass: To my knowledge, yes.

CHAIR: It seems like rather odd company to be keeping, with those countries you mentioned.

May I please inquire, what is the expected or approximate timeframe now for Australia’s formal ratification of the Minamata Convention?

Further, could you please confirm whether Australia will – uniquely for an OECD country – seek an exemption to the Convention, or whether it will now seek to ratify without exemption?

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

29 / 9 / 2021

Cc: Mr David Sharma MP, Chair, Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Cc: Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, United Nations Environment Programme

[1] p.v, Report 197, Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, August 2021; tabled 1 September 2021