Announcement of Reforms to the Illegal Logging Laws
The government has announced reforms to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 (the Regulation) to streamline and clarify due diligence requirements.
The government will be progressing amendments to:
- Establish a new 'Deemed to comply' arrangement for products certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for Endorsement Certification (PEFC) schemes. This will streamline the due diligence requirements for importers or processors dealing with such products, providing an estimated annual regulatory saving of AUD$4.2 million.
Associated with this reform, they will also remove Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licenses from the Regulation's scope. FLEGT licences are only issued for products exported directly from certain countries to the European Union.
- Clarify that personal or non-commercial importers and processors do not need to provide business related information as part of their due diligence system. This will resolve some of the difficulties such parties have had in complying with the Regulation's requirements.
- Clarify that any conclusions of risk must be 'reasonable' and supported by evidence gathered as part of the due diligence process.
Illegal Logging Regulation Impact Statement published
The development of the reforms was informed by the 'Reforming Australia's Illegal Logging Laws' Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) which was published on 5 October 2017. This examined options for amending the Regulation to ensure it does not impose any un-necessary compliance costs.
The RIS considered six potential regulatory options: continuing with the current status quo; changing the consignment value threshold; removing personal imports from the Regulation; and creating new deemed to comply arrangements for timber legality frameworks; Country or State Specific Guidelines; and low-risk countries.
The RIS was informed by a public consultation process that ran from November 2016 to early January 2017. During this process, a total of 46 submissions were received.
The government has used the feedback provided through these submissions and the broader RIS process to shape the reforms.
End of the "soft-start" compliance period
With the conclusion of the RIS process and announcement of the reforms, the department is now moving to end the existing 'soft-start' compliance period. During this period, we have not been issuing penalties for any failures to comply with the due diligence requirements.
From 1 January 2018, businesses and individuals who import regulated timber products into Australia, or who process domestically grown raw logs, may face penalties for breaches of the due diligence requirements.