Agriculture

Striking a balance with illegal logging laws

Australia’s illegal logging laws are being improved to reduce compliance costs for timber importers and processors.

Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, today said the government had worked closely with stakeholders to cut red tape yet ensure that illegally logged timber does not enter the Australian market.

“Illegal logging has significant global economic, environmental, and social impacts and undercuts our legal and legitimate timber producers,” Federal Minister Ruston said.

“We are as committed as ever to combatting illegal logging, while conscious of the need to avoid unreasonable and unnecessary costs on businesses—this will lead to better prices at the local hardware store for consumers.

“Following a comprehensive Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) process, involving broad consultation, I am pleased to announce that the government will move quickly to progress amendments to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012.

“The amendments will streamline and simplify arrangements for those businesses and individuals importing or processing timber products certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes, slashing regulatory costs by more than $4 million per year.

“This reflects the fact that both certification schemes are internationally recognised as providing rigorous forest management and chain of custody standards.

“With the conclusion of the RIS process and announcement of the reforms, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will move to end its existing ‘soft-start’ compliance approach where the focus has been on educating businesses and individuals of their obligations under the laws.

“We continue to support businesses and individuals in understanding the requirements of the illegal logging laws, but the time has come to get serious about applying penalties to those found to be not complying with their obligations.”

From 1 January 2018, any businesses and individuals that fail to comply with their due diligence obligations may face significant financial penalties.

Source: Australian Government

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