Australian illegal logging bill gets first stage approval

22 August 2012

Australia’s House of Representatives has passed legislation to outlaw the importing of illegally-logged timber.

The Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill was passed by a majority of just three and will now proceed to the Senate. The bill was introduced to parliament last year.

MP John Cobb tabled an amendment to delay implementation of legislation until 2015 to allow large trading partner Indonesia enough time to be compliant with its timber exports. But this was defeated by three votes.

Sid Sidebottom, the Australian government secretary for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, said delaying implementation of the bill was a “shallow gesture”.

He said delaying introduction would mean a further 236,520km2 of forest would be harvested illegally with the approval of the Australian government.

The bill will require Australian timber importers and domestic processing mills to undertake a process of due diligence to verify the legal origins of their imported timber products and to disclose species, country of harvest and any certification.

The legislation effectively delivers on a promise made by the coalition government to make illegal timber importing a criminal offence.