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95-2017 - Reforms to Australia’s illegal logging laws

17 October 2017

Who does this notice affect?

This notice affects importers of products that contain wood, paper or pulp, regulated under the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012. It is also relevant to customs service providers who provide assistance to importers of such products.

What has changed?

On 5 October 2017, the Australian Government announced reforms to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 (the Regulation). These reforms will streamline and clarify the associated ‘due diligence’ requirements.

The government will progress amendments to the Regulation 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.
  • Remove Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licenses from the Regulation’s scope. This reflects the fact that FLEGT licences are only issued for products exported directly from certain countries to the European Union and are unlikely to be seen within the Australian market.
  • 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 previously 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.

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. The RIS examined options for amending the Regulation to ensure it does not impose un-necessary compliance costs.

With the conclusion of the RIS process, and announcement of the reforms, the department will also end the existing ‘soft-start’ compliance period. From 1 January 2018, businesses and individuals may face penalties for breaches of the Regulation’s due diligence requirements. Failing to comply with due diligence requirements may attract a penalty of up to 300 penalty units ($63,000).

Further information

Further information about the regulatory amendments, RIS Process and the end of the soft-start period can be found on the department’s website.

You can also direct questions regarding the illegal logging laws to the Illegal Logging Compliance Assessment inbox or by phoning 1800 657 313.