“Everyone needs an Advocate”

Small Cost,
Big Benefits

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Ken Phillips is co-founder and Executive Director of Independent Contractors of Australia. He is a published authority on independent contractor issues and directs research on related commercial and trade practices issues. Through his numerous articles in newspapers and think-tank and academic journals, Ken is known for approaching issues from outside normal perspectives and is frequently sought out for media comment.

Axe the illegal logging laws

Monday, September 01, 2014

Environmental lobbyists are in panic because there’s the potential in NSW for land-clearing laws to be freed up. They say “extremists” want to give farmers greater rights to clear their farmland for farming.

But look at the “extremism” under federal laws, starting in November, to stop the import of illegally logged timber. The laws are green tape on steroids that put at risk 15,000 small-business people involved in timber product imports. Compliance is impossible, yet people face jail if they don’t comply.

The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act will require timber importers to declare that they have not imported illegally logged wood. That seems reasonable until the detail is understood. Take this example.

My wife wants a new kitchen cabinet. We’ve found a local cabinet-maker that custom-builds in a small factory. He sources timber from Australia and overseas. After November he’ll have to fill out a form every time he brings in timber or veneer stating that nothing has been logged illegally. He’ll be criminally liable if he is wrong, the ultimate penalty five years’ jail. He is guilty if someone he bought from breached a foreign logging law even if he didn’t know about the law or that the law had been breached.

Thousands of retailers, builders, shopfitters, joiners, cabinet-makers and furniture manufacturers could be hit.

In 2012 a federal government report said it was impossible for people to secure the evidence in foreign markets required under the new act. For example, a reputable Canadian supplier may have bought from Canadian loggers but also from Japanese timber traders and veneer from South Korea. The South Korean and Japanese companies may have sourced wood from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia or a mix.

Under the Australian law my cabinet-maker will have to have investigated each step of the supply chain. If a government official were bribed to ignore illegal logging, my cabinet-maker also must declare this.

This impractical legislation was born in 2011 under the Labor-Greens government. At the time the Abbott Coalition voted against it, promising to fix the problem in government. Now the minister in charge, Richard Colbeck, is breaking that promise.

If the Coalition or Labor-Greens governments were serious about the environment they would have practical laws. For example, to stop illegally logged timber, government should have checking and verification processes and certify legally logged wood, giving certainty to small-business people.

Likewise, NSW farmers deserve practical laws that preserve their rights as well as preserving vegetation.

[First published in The Australian, August 2014]
Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image

Recent Posts

Be Protected!

You can become a Protected Member

Only $40 a month (plus GST)

You receive:
Tax Investigation Support
Unfair Contract help

Member benefits info here
Join as a Protected Member