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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9119


Mr SIDEBOTTOM (BraddonParliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (15:25): We have just heard the coalition, in a very hollow gesture, claim that they do not outright oppose the bill—but they will vote against it in its current form. That means three more years of forests being decimated by illegal logging and three more years of support for the criminal activities of illegal loggers and those associated with this terrible destruction. The coalition have not made one constructive suggestion about how to improve the bill. They merely say, 'Let's delay its implementation for almost three years.' What type of abrogation of our responsibility as parliamentarians would that be? We would have legislation on the statutes as impotent as the coalition's attempt to salvage some credibility out of this debate.

This is, as I mentioned before, a shallow gesture and a reflection on those who put it forward. I want to remind the House and all those listening to this that in 2010 the federal coalition made this pledge to the Australian people:

The Coalition will legislate to make it an offence to import any timber product which has not been verified as being legally harvested.

They went on:

We will require Australian timber importers and domestic processing mills to undertake a process of due diligence to verify the legal origins of the timber product and to disclose species, country of harvest and any certification … A transition period of two years will be provided to allow industry to adapt to these new measures.

The legislation before us delivers the coalition's commitment as well as the Labor Party's election commitment. Today the coalition is proposing to give the green light to sophisticated criminal networks to continue a trade which costs $60 billion per annum. Their amendment effectively makes Australia a haven for the proceeds of crime.

Mr John Cobb interjecting

Mr SIDEBOTTOM: I would like to remind the member opposite, whilst he is sitting there quietly, that—using estimates published by the World Bank—a further 236,520 square kilometres of forest will be harvested illegally with the approval of the Australian parliament if we agree to your amendment. Looking at the data in the explanatory memorandum for this bill, of which you are well aware—I assume you have read it—it is clear that the coalition's amendments would give the green light to a further $180 billion worth of illicit trade by sophisticated criminal networks over the next three years. Of that, $1.2 billion would be delivered in Australia. Those opposite are effectively saying that Europe and the United States can do the heavy lifting on this issue, while Australia will be a dumping ground for illegally logged timber and timber products.

As I said before, you do not propose to oppose the bill, yet you do not make suggestions on how to improve the bill. You just say, 'Delay its implementation'—for whatever reason—and, in doing so, you admit that the government has in fact got it right. Your amendment is a shallow gesture and a reflection on those who put it forward. We will not support your amendment.