House debates

Monday, 20 August 2012


Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011; Consideration in Detail

3:46 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is most important to get information on the record on the amendment to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill. It is a pleasure to follow the members for Gippsland and Wannon. The member for Wannon made some very valid remarks about the risks inherent in this, following the trade subcommittee's recent report, from which I quote:

The implementation of the Bill is also likely to undermine the development of trade between Indonesia and Australia based on our respective mutual interests. In this respect, reference is made to the recent efforts of the Government of Indonesia to accommodate and resolve the problem faced by Australia during the self-imposed ban on beef exports to Indonesia.

As the member for Wannon indicated, the trade Australia does with Indonesia in wheat and beef cannot be jeopardised: it cannot be jeopardised by this particular legislation and it cannot be jeopardised as it concerns the national interests of Australia and Indonesia. As we all know Indonesia is a very valuable trading partner of Australia.

This amendment calls for the regulations and amendments to coincide. Passing this bill without knowing what the detail is could jeopardise our trade relations a whole lot. We have seen this before with this Labor government when they have tried to force through other pieces of legislation, and they have been able to do that in this hung parliament. The haste with which e-health electronic health records was done springs to mind. I also caution the parliament about putting in a water policy in a hasty way that is going to impinge upon so many irrigators within my electorate.

But this particular legislation can lead to the jailing of people. We cannot have innocent people, perhaps, going to jail for the want of better legislation and more time to consider in proper detail what this legislation entails. We need a common-sense approach. The coalition certainly have approached this in good faith. We need to ensure that all the detail is considered properly and accurately. The coalition are committed to addressing the trade of illegally sourced timber and timber products. That was certainly coalition policy at the 2010 election.

The need for the legislation is driven, as we all know, by several issues, including environmental concerns regarding indiscriminate or poorly controlled logging activities, and there is certainly a lot of logging activity in the Riverina electorate. I am sure that when the Parliamentary Secretary Sidebottom, who is sitting at the table at present, visits the Riverina—and he has shown a desire to do so, as he did with the member for Gippsland just recently—I am sure he will be able to take on board those logging activities and how valuable they are to the Riverina electorate and to the economic future of Australia, because there is so much logging activity taking place in Australia and so much of it takes place in the Riverina. In addition, under the current legislative regime the Australian forest sector, which is globally recognised for its forest management regulation and practices, suffers competitive disadvantages through compliance costs, which are borne locally but are not observed by illegal loggers.

The coalition acknowledge the government's acceptance of the majority of the recommendations made to the exposure draft. The need for further consultation is clearly indicated by a number of media articles and by some of those things that have been said by coalition members today, who are concerned about the details and effects of this bill. The coalition support measures to prevent illegal logging. This position was clearly articulated in our 2010 forestry policy. The coalition will legislate to make it an offence to import any timber product that has not been verified as being legally harvested. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry estimates that each year around $400 million, or 10 per cent, of imported forest products were derived from sources that had some risk of being illegally logged. That cannot continue.

A transition period of two years will be provided to allow industry to adapt to two new measures that will safeguard against illegal logging. The coalition will ensure that all stakeholders impacted are consulted closely in the drafting of any legislation, regulations and other related measures, which will benefit this entire bill and these amendments.


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