A Queensland-based importer has been fined $12,600 for ongoing non-compliance with Australia’s illegal logging laws, becoming the first company to be penalised under the legislation. Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Richard Colbeck said the penalty was a timely reminder to importers and processors about their obligations under Australia’s illegal logging laws. Source: Timberbiz
“The company had been directed to provide information on its due diligence for sourcing timber, and failed to comply. My department issues directions for a reason and they must be complied with,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The Government has worked very closely with industry during the implementation of these laws including a period of soft commencement to make sure business had the opportunity to ensure their systems were adequate to demonstrate compliance.
“Illegal logging has significant global economic, environmental, and social impacts and undercuts our legal and legitimate timber producers here in Australia.
“Estimates of the global cost of illegal logging are between $71 billion and $212 billion each year.
“Under Australia’s illegal logging laws, any business or individual that fails to effectively undertake due diligence to assess and manage the risk that the wood or paper in their imported products is from illegally harvested timber can face significant financial penalties.
“Now we have our first prosecution for a failure to comply with this requirement.
“Thanks to our strong regulatory framework, Australians can be confident that the timber we produce locally comes from reputable and sustainable sources, and every effort is being made to ensure the timber we import has been legally harvested.
“This year my department will continue to undertake audits to assess compliance with the illegal logging laws, to help ensure that illegally logged imported timber does not enter the Australian market.
“We will continue to support businesses and individuals in understanding their responsibilities under the illegal logging laws, but there will be consequences for those not complying with their legal obligations.”
A review of the first five years of the operation of Australia’s Illegal logging Prohibition Act 2012 has recently been completed and is available at agriculture.gov.au/illegal-logging
The findings, including opportunities to improve the operation of the Act are currently being considered.