Monday, 20 August 2012
Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011; Consideration in Detail
I am very concerned that the coalition would oppose the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011. I was a part of the trade committee that went through the bills. I saw the last election promises by the coalition to ban illegal logging, to support bills in the parliament to stop illegal logging, to support the Australian manufacturing industry. They have now opposed that. They are now opposing these bills on some really false position. I am really concerned that the rest of the world—the USA and the Europeans—is moving against illegal logging but not the coalition.
Who has got to the coalition? The illegal loggers, I think. People who are making money out of bringing illegal logs, illegal wood and illegal furniture into Australia have got to them. Who is paying the bills? Who is making the donations to Liberal members and National Party members for elections? We ought to start looking at this. This is a turnaround from a promise at the last election. The promise was, 'We will oppose illegal timber and products coming into Australia.' Well, you have turned that around. You have turned that around with some spurious arguments like, 'We're worried about the trade with our neighbours,' when you know that the rest of the world is also moving against illegal logging.
I heard the member for Grey say, 'Oh, well, we know that a bit of cash passes under the table to get the accreditation.' Do we accept that? Of course we do not accept that. That is not world best practice. That is not what we should accept. We know that Indonesia is moving toward accreditation systems, and we encourage them and we are helping them. But if we do not put up proper laws in this country we will be going backwards. We should be supporting these bills and getting them through the parliament. I am very disappointed that this attitude has been taken.
The trade committee did look hard at this matter. It worked through the issues. We had a roundtable with diplomatic and trade people from neighbouring countries, and we worked through issues that they had raised. That is the way it should have been. But this is our bill to protect Australia and to set a standard for our country for forestry workers, for the manufacturing sector of Australia. That is what these bills are about: setting the standard. Australia has a right to do that and it should be supported by the political parties, not with some spurious argument that is coming from the other side, just so they have an extension or some sort of differentiation.
I am telling you that I will make sure that forest workers will understand in this country—and the large bulk of those that work in making furniture in Australia will also be well aware—that the coalition is not interested in having proper protection of their jobs and having proper processes which meet world standards, which is where we are going. As I said, we know that the rest of the world is moving down these lines. We need to seek an accreditation process so that when someone buys wood to sell in Australia it has an accreditation process on it. There are many different accreditation schemes, but one has to come up to the standards we are going to set for Australia. I cannot see what can be wrong with that. I cannot see why the opposition would be opposing this, unless there is some other reason. Maybe the member for Mayo will tell us that reason in an honest flurry from that side. I believe we should be supporting this bill and it should pass the House and the Senate.