Australia benefitting from the proceeds of crime if it does not ban the sale of illegally logged timberPosted: May 19th, 2009 | Author: media.room | Filed under: Justice and International Mission | Comments Off
The Uniting Church, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania has called on the Federal Government to ban the importation and sale of illegally logged timber. To not do so the church says, Australia will benefit from the proceeds of crime and snub global anti corruption efforts.
In a submission to the government, the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s social justice spokesperson, Dr Mark Zirnsak said Australia must live up to its election promise and to its international obligations to combat corruption and climate change.
“Under the UN Convention against Corruption, illegally logged timber constitutes the proceeds of crime and Australia has obligations to combat it entering the Australian market. We should not be benefitting from or supporting such corruption.”
“Australia should be amongst those countries leading the fight against illegal logging”, said Dr Zirnsak. “We should not act like some dodgy pawn shop, willing to trade in stolen goods until such time as all the pawn shops around us stop doing the same thing” said Dr Zirnsak.
The submission argues that Government should introduce a law to ban the sale and importation of timber and wood products that have been produced from timber that has been illegally logged; irrespective of whether the illegal logging has occurred in Australia or overseas.
The church is calling for a certification process with an independent auditing body that guarantees chain of custody of the timber from the time it is logged until the time it is sold. This would ensure the timber has not been illegally logged and corruption was not involved in the logging process.
The legislation should outline the penalties for importing or selling timber or wood products that do not meet the required level of certification. Regulation should be used to specify the required standard for certification schemes that would represent acceptable standards.
The submission also calls for the Australian Government to allow governments in countries where timber originates from to take civil action against importers of illegally logged timber into Australia, where an importer has failed to ensure the legality of the timber or wood product. This would allow the foreign government to pursue payment of compensation and damages for the offences committed in the production of the timber or wood product.
Approximately 9% of Australian imports of forest products and wooden furniture are considered to be sourced from illegally logged timber.
Deforestation contributes approximately 20% to current global greenhouse gas emissions and illegal logging is a significant factor in deforestation.
The US has introduced their own law to combat the importation of illegally logged timber and the European Union has also started to take steps to combat the importation of illegally logged timber.
For all media queries or to arrange an interview with Director of the Justice and International Mission Unit, Dr Mark Zirnsak please contact:
Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, 0418 330 483