Logging law changes

MORE detail on illegal logging legislation needs to be produced by the Federal Government, according to Gippsland MHR Darren Chester.

The legislation was debated this week in Federal Parliament, and while Mr Chester said he supported efforts to reduce the impact of illegal logging, he had concerns that a lack of regulation and detail could impact on the domestic industry.

Mr Chester told Parliament that it was unreasonable of the Federal Government to seek to bring changes into law without fully consulting with the domestic timber industry and trading partners.

“Out of respect to our international trading partners, but also, and more importantly, from my personal perspective — out of respect for the domestic industry — we need to take time to get this right,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“Gippsland is one of the few remaining communities in Australia which has survived the death of a thousand cuts imposed by State Labor Governments and their partners in the Greens.

“The Greens’ influence on the Labor Party at state level has devastated the Australian native hardwood timber industry, and the community of Gippsland has suffered more than most.

“Yet, throughout almost 20 years of what I would argue have been unreasonable cuts in relation to access to the resource, the industry has managed to survive, and in small pockets it has managed to prosper.”

Mr Chester said timber mills such as Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield and Fenning Bairnsdale had invested in modern technology to get the greatest possible yield out of every piece of timber with little waste.

“The Australian timber industry is operating differently from the way the Australian Greens and some logging protesters would have you believe they operate,” he said.

“They are trying to add as much value as possible to this precious resource.

“There are exhaustive certification processes through which they can prove the sustainability of the resource they are harvesting.

“But they are often competing against imported products made from timber which is, to say the least, of dubious origin.

“It might come from illegal harvesting in foreign nations or it might involve a process which is not environmentally sustainable.

“I do support, in principle, the efforts to tighten up the trade in illegally harvested timber.

“I think there would be many benefits to the domestic market.

“Having said that, this government has failed to consult with the industry and has failed to produce the regulations or give any detail whatsoever about how this legislation will operate in the real world.”

The debate on the legislation was adjourned and is expected to continue when Parliament resumes this week.