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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9130

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (16:14): I rise to address this consideration in detail. I would not be so kind as the member for Mayo in relation to the member for Lyons because part of the problem with this bill and this legislation is that the government of course is being driven by the Australian Greens. The member for Melbourne in his contribution to this debate said that he would like to see the definition of 'illegal timber' in the legislation expanded. He would like to see the due diligence requirements increased. Really what that reveals is that the executive arm of this government, the member for Melbourne and the Greens in the Australian Senate, are driving this agenda. And it is a Greens agenda, not a protection of jobs agenda.

It just so happens that last night, Member for Lyons, I saw a program on television about the Tasmanian tiger trail. They are trying to promote tourism there around the Tasmanian devil. It said quite reflectively, quite sombrely, that they had lamented locally the loss of so many timber workers in Tasmania. Why have they lost so many timber workers in Tasmania? It is because of the policies of the Australian Greens.

So here we have a government that is driven by the Greens on one hand, saying: 'Let's expand the definition of "illegal timber". Let's stop logging altogether in the countries in our region because we are concerned about climate change,' and all of the things that the Greens are concerned about, and at the same time we have got the member for Lyons coming in here and saying, 'We've got to protect those few remaining timber workers that we've got in Tasmania.' That is the madness of a government that goes too far.

The member for Mayo's points and questions are well made, in one sense. Does the parliamentary secretary think that passing this bill will stop illegal logging? Well, yes. The government here thinks that passing a bill called the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill will stop illegal logging. That is the problem with this government: that is all they think they have to do. Never mind the 'how'; it is always the 'what'. Do the opposition agree with illegal logging? Of course we do not. Do we oppose this bill? No. Do we oppose the intention of this bill? No, we do not, Member for Lyons. What we are concerned about is what is in the regulations, what the definition of 'illegal timber' is, and how a citizen or business complies with it. You cannot separate the 'what' of what you want to achieve from the 'how'. But this government has not grasped the 'how'. It never does grasp the 'how'—'We'll worry about the detail later. How will we stop illegal logging? Somehow'. It is not good enough to pass the bill in this form. That is why the opposition has proposed amendments—to allow time for proper consultation.

When you read the Orwellian explanatory memorandum of this bill—which goes through the great detail of consultation with peak industry bodies and other groups that have been consulted, and how great the consultation is—you find that it is completely at odds with what you find in the attitudes to this legislation of people out there in the sector. When you go to our trading partners, whether you go to Papua New Guinea, Malaysia or Indonesia, you find that they have expressed concerns. Hardwood bodies in America or in other countries have said, 'Look, you can achieve what you are trying to achieve. Work with us.'

Even in the explanatory memorandum it says—the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, who is at the table, would agree—that Australia 'may leverage greater regional government action on combating illegal logging and associated trade through regional capacity building and bilateral and multilateral efforts'. Hear, hear! Where are the bilateral and multilateral efforts here? Nobody in this place has come forward into this parliament and suggested a huge issue with domestic illegal logging of timber. Nobody has come in here and suggested that.

This bill does not achieve the outcome that the government has so loudly vaunted. The member for Lyons has got up and said, 'We need to protect workers' jobs,' at the same time as he is in coalition with the Australian Greens, who want to broaden the definition of illegal timber, and make it harder to import timber of any nature into this country because they are fundamentally opposed to logging—full stop. Every tree has to be saved, according to the Australian Greens. How does the member for Lyons come in here and say, 'Let's use the laws of this country to protect the timber jobs that are left in Tasmania. At the same time, I'm in a government that has this Greens dominated policy, which is stripping back workers and jobs in my own state.' He needs to answer that question.

But the parliamentary secretary needs to answer the question about how the government intends to stop illegal logging, just by passing a bill entitled Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill. He needs to say what the regulations will be and how this compliance will lead to a reduction in logging, and he needs to get across the detail. Every minister in this government is not across the detail, and this is another blinding example of government failure to produce the appropriate laws and regulations to back up what they are trying to achieve.