AHEC submissions to Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill inquiry
Also in March, AHEC’s Regional Director, Rod Wiles, met senior officials from Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF) at a briefing session for industry stakeholders on the proposed Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill.
Currently before the House of Representatives, the proposed Bill sets out to reduce the harmful environmental, social and economic impacts of illegal logging. An early draft of the Bill looked to set out impractical obligations on the timber trade to provide proof of legality at point of entry into Australia. It now seems that it has been moderated to include a prohibition on imports of illegally logged timber in to Australia in which the burden of proof lies with the prosecuting authority and not with the importer. Also, the Bill includes a requirement for due diligence on the part of the importer and that regulations for due diligence “must be prescribed only for the purposes of reducing the risk that imported regulated timber products are made from, or include, illegally logged timber”.
AHEC, together with other wood industry groups and governments, was invited to submit comments to the ongoing Senate Inquiry in to the Bill. Two sets of comments were duly drafted and submitted, in which AHEC, amongst other statements, supported the Bill in its current form and fully endorsed the views expressed in the New Zealand and Canadian submissions “that countries that represent a low risk of exporting illegal timber, due to their effective legislative supervision, should not be required to undergo the same level of scrutiny as countries or regions posing a higher level of risk”.
Provided the Bill is enacted as drafted, AHEC sees no reason to anticipate market access issues for American hardwoods in to Australia in the near future.