8 October, 2014
New requirements for timber importers and processors designed to protect legitimate markets and combat illegally sourced timber products will be in place from 30 November 2014.
Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, said face-to-face workshops and webinars to assist industry with the transition would be held across the country during October and November.
"The Government has consulted extensively with Australian businesses to develop practical regulations that address the real issues without unduly burdening industry," Senator Colbeck said.
"We have worked to ensure that the Australian industry is provided with efficient processes to help them establish that the timber they're dealing with comes from legal sources. "
"Businesses will have to undertake a relatively simple due diligence process, which involves asking their suppliers to provide evidence that the products they are buying have a legitimate source."
"In fact, many businesses will now be able to rely on existing or only slightly modified business systems to stamp out an abhorrent environmental practice that undercuts responsible producers and markets."
Senator Colbeck said the Department of Agriculture was now working to implement processes that would facilitate easy compliance with the new requirements.
"We are recognising international certification schemes so that businesses can use a streamlined due diligence process for timber that is already certified as being legally harvested." Senator Colbeck said.
"We have also expanded the range of schemes that can be used to include the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) Chain of Custody schemes. This should ensure that many more businesses can rely on a streamlined due diligence process."
Senator Colbeck said the government had also worked closely with key trading partners to develop Country Specific Guidelines - the first of their kind in the world - that will help Australian importers better understand the certification schemes available in countries of origin.
"For the first 18 months that the new requirements are in place, our focus will be on awareness and education," Senator Colbeck said.
"The new requirements are not about penalising people who genuinely make an effort to comply."
"I strongly encourage timber importers to attend one of the coming information sessions to find out more."
Information about the new regulations and upcoming industry events is available at agriculture.gov.au/illegallogging