Ships to be turned away if they contain asbestos or have not been checked for the toxic substance.
Ship operators have been warned to check for asbestos in their vessels before using them on trade to Australia.
Speaking at the SEA10 Conference in Melbourne last week, Sarah Major from the Australian Customs and Border Service said ships built after January 1, 2005, could be turned away if they contained asbestos or had not been checked for the toxic substance.
"Older vessels over 150 tonnes with asbestos, that have an appropriate management plan considered suitable by the regulators, will be allowed in even though strictly speaking asbestos is prohibited under Australian law," Ms Major said.
"New ships, these are ships built after January 1, 2005, that have asbestos in any form will be turned away and we have already done so.
"I know the cost of some of these vessels being turned back to their port of exit or somewhere else is not insignificant but the government is very clear on its position on this that new vessels must not have asbestos in place," she said.
"It is the obligation of the importer to check that that has been checked."