HELPING YOUR UNDERSTAND THE LEGISLATION
ABOUT ILLEGAL LOGGING
The legal framework
Like similar legislation in the European Union and the United States, the illegal logging laws passed by the Australian Government in 2012 have been designed to support the trade in legally harvested timber and timber products into the Australian timber market.
If you are a business importing timber or timber products into Australia or processing domestically grown raw logs you need to be aware of your new responsibilities.
Key points about the laws
- The Act -
Came into effect in November 2012.
Businesses importing any timber or timber products into Australia and processors of domestically grown raw logs.
The Act criminalises the importation into Australia of illegally logged timber and any product made from illegally logged timber as well as the processing of domestic raw logs which have been illegally logged.
People and companies that don't directly import timber or timber products or process domestic raw logs (i.e. many merchants, builders, retailers, secondary manufacturers and joineries) are not subject to The Act.
A maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, $85,000 for an individual and $425,000 for a corporation, plus forfeiture of timber product / raw logs applies where they are found to have to have imported or processed illegally logged timber and done so knowingly, intentionally or recklessly.
- The Regulation -
Came into effect 30 November 2014.
Businesses importing certain timber or timber products (as defined in the regulation) into Australia and processors of domestically grown raw logs.
Describe the due diligence process that businesses must undertake.
The Regulation requires importers of regulated timber products and domestic processors of raw logs to have a complying due diligence system in place to minimise the risk of importing or processing illegally logged timber.
The list of regulated timber products includes all sawn timber, decking, mouldings, plywood, particleboard, MDF, joinery items such as timber doors and windows, most pulp, paper and cardboard products as well as most timber and timber-framed furniture.
People and companies that don't directly import timber or timber products or process domestic raw logs (i.e. many merchants, builders, retailers, secondary manufacturers and joineries) are not subject to The Regulation.
From May 2016, penalties may also apply to importers who fail to comply with the due diligence.
Impact on small businesses
The Australian Government announced a review on the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business in December 2014.
The review was conducted by an independent consultant, KPMG. The review assessed whether the existing due diligence requirements strike an appropriate balance between the cost of compliance for small businesses and reducing the risk of illegally logged timber entering the Australian market.
On 25 February 2016, the Australian Government released the final report of the ‘Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business’ and its associated response.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture has made available a number of resources and guidance materials to assist State based Australian businesses, foreign countries' organisations/businesses with illegal logging due diligence and compliance.
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