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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9118


Mr JOHN COBB (Calare) (15:20): I rise to speak again following the government's comment on the coalition's amendment to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011. We are committed to addressing the trade in illegally sourced timber and timber products. In fact that was coalition policy at the 2010 election. Everything I have heard indicates that we all agree that the need for action is driven by a number of issues, including environmental concerns over indiscriminate or poorly controlled logging activities. In addition, under the current legislative regime the Australian forest sector, which is globally recognised for its forest management regulation and practices, suffers a competitive disadvantage through compliance costs borne locally that are not observed by illegal loggers.

The intent of this bill is well placed, but not surprisingly the government has again bungled the delivery of a policy on which both sides of politics agree. Specifically the government has bungled on the consultation process. A flawed consultation process has led to concerns amongst significant trading partners, no less than four of whom have voiced concerns. The Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia, our most important near neighbour, in a submission to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into this bill stated:

The negative impact on trade should also not be underestimated bearing in mind that timber products commonly have long and complex chains of supply with mixed sources from different locations and different kinds of timber.

The government of Indonesia submission goes on:

It is for this reason that the GOI has recommended the deferral of the legislation until 2015 to provide time to ensure the legislation will not have unintended consequences that will unnecessarily harm the mutual trade between our two nations. Furthermore, the three years of adjournment will provide time for proper consultation between both countries including detail clarification as well as period of adjustment for the Indonesian producers/exporters to comply with the regulation.

This brings to mind issues Indonesia have had experience of—such as the lack of consultation we saw with the live cattle trade ban, when not only was there insufficient consultation; I believe there was none at all. They had to read in the newspaper about Australia's decision to suspend exports to its biggest trading partner in the area. This again shows complete arrogance on the part of this government—they snubbed our nearest trading partners in the same way, as I said, that they did with the live export ban. It is not reasonable for the government to bring these measures into law without giving our trading partners, our domestic timber industry and timber importers the time they were promised to design and implement appropriate systems.

In moving this amendment, while at the same time wanting to ensure that Australia only imports timber from proper sources, I want to repeat what Indonesia—our nearest, our biggest and, without doubt, our most important neighbour—said:

It is for this reason that the GOI (Government of Indonesia) has recommended the deferral of the legislation until 2015 to provide time to ensure the legislation will not have unintended consequences that will unnecessarily harm the mutual trade between our two nations.

(Time expired)