Planned illegal logging reforms will cost jobs and hurt the environment

Published: 1 Mar 2016

The CFMEU has today condemned the Federal Government’s plan to reform illegal logging regulations that will weaken the timber industry and spell disaster for local jobs.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said the proposed reforms will increase the trade of illegally logged timber, causing massive economic, social and environmental issues.

“Australia’s forest and forestry products industry already face heavy competition from overseas suppliers but this decision will gut local jobs, especially in regional areas,” he said.

“This is typical of a Prime Minister who doesn’t give a stuff about local jobs, doesn’t care about our regions and pretends to care about the environment, when we all know that’s a lie.

“The government wants to rely on other countries changing their own guidelines around illegal timber but that is a pipe dream."

The Federal Government on Friday released its final ‘Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business’ conducted by KPMG.

It plans to raise the individual consignment value threshold from $1,000 to $10,000, meaning companies could bring in commercial quantities of timber products without any checks and balances in place.

By scrapping due diligence requirements, any protections ensuring timber products are sourced from legal timber mills is thrown out the door, along with local jobs.

“By removing the safeguards against the importation of illegally logged timber this governmentis opening up the industry to competition from illegal logging operations,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The fact is, it costs a lot of money to follow the rule of law around these issues and people are out there to make a quick buck. They’re not going to just change the way they do business because Australia tells them they ought to.

“What the government is really saying is, if you can keep your shipment values under $10,000 then it doesn’t matter if they come from an illegal source because we’re not going to check." 

China is the biggest processor of illegally sourced logs, with Russia and South East Asia key source countries.

Given the recent China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), the CFMEU is concerned about the impact the flood of imported and tariff-free products will have on domestic jobs.