Media release

Striking a balance with illegal logging laws

5 October 2017

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

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," 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.

More information is available at http://www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/policies/illegal-logging

Fast facts:

  • The theft, laundering, and trade of illegal timber occurs throughout the world, estimated by Interpol to cost the global community in excess of US$51 billion each year.
  • Since 2012, Australia has had laws in place to combat illegal logging and support the trade in legally harvested timber and wood-based products.
  • It has been estimated that, prior to the reforms, compliance costs to business were approximately $28 million each year.
  • These reforms will deliver over $4 million per annum in savings.