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Monday, 19 November 2012
Page: 9045

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (17:43): So as not to disappoint Senator Milne, I will be direct: it will not go down to the coupe level. Sometimes I think there are two debates going on. It is a due diligence process. What we want to ensure is, ultimately, that the industry is not so burdened by regulation that it cannot operate, even where it is positively seeking to import timber of any description from well-known sources. What we do want them to do, which is outlined in the bill, is to prohibit the importation of timber products—that is the first overarching thing we are doing by passing this bill. The second is allowing a process to run its course for the next two years, where the due diligence can be worked through with industry so as to achieve the outcome.

If you go to the second reading speech, the outcome is about the following:

Our own research and the work of the European Union indicate that the best way to minimise trade in illegally harvested product is to implement a due diligence framework. Importers and processors will be required to undertake a process of due diligence on those products to mitigate the risk that the timber has been illegally logged. The level of culpability for these products is negligence which differs from the standard subjective fault elements of intention, knowledge or recklessness. Negligence is an objective fault element which looks to the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise …

It is important to ensure that the trade in timber products can continue and that the importers at the border—not those all the way down the supply chain—can provide a due diligence to the regulator to ensure that the timber is not illegally logged. There is also a compliance framework in place. There has to be a compliance framework so that we can then assess how it is running.

The third issue which I would bring to your attention is the system that you are suggesting is a prescriptive one which would, quite frankly, not work. It would mean that the burden on each importer to have all of that detail would effectively halt the trade. It is not the intention of this legislation to do that.