30 May 2016
Who does this notice affect?
This notice affects importers of wood-based products regulated under the illegal logging legislation and domestic processors of Australian grown raw logs.
Importers and processors have been required to undertake due diligence since 30 November 2014. This remains a legal requirement.
This notice advises that the illegal logging ‘soft-start’ compliance period has been extended from 30 May 2016 to a date yet to be determined, subject to a review currently underway.
During the ‘soft start’ period, where importers or processors are found to be non-compliant with their due diligence requirements under the illegal logging legislation, the department will issue educational advice and not pursue civil penalties.
The ‘soft-start’ compliance period does not apply to serious or deliberate breaches of Australia’s illegal logging laws. If the department becomes aware of such criminal breaches, it will pursue them.
Since 30 November 2014, importers of timber and wood-based products into Australia and processors of domestically grown raw logs have been required to undertake ‘due diligence’. This requirement is set out in the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 (the Regulation) and requires the regulated party to assess and minimise the risk that the wood, pulp, or paper in these products has been illegally logged.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources initially announced a 18 month ‘soft-start’ compliance period to run from 30 November 2014 to 30 May 2016. During this period, the department has not issued penalties to businesses found to be not fully compliant with the due diligence requirements.
On 25 February 2016, the Australian Government released the final report of the KPMG led “Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business”. This proposed a package of regulatory and non-regulatory reforms to minimise the costs of complying with the Regulation. A copy of the report can be found at Small business impacts review.
In light of this process and the potential for further changes to the Regulation, the department has decided to extend the initial ‘soft-start’ compliance period until any amendments from the KPMG review have been finalised. Any regulatory amendments will be progressed as part of an associated Regulation Impact Statement process. This is expected to extend the soft-start period until late 2016 or early 2017.
A further Compliance Advice Notice will be released to advise when the ‘soft-start’ compliance period will end.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for ensuring importers comply with the laws. Our illegal logging website has a range of useful information and guidance to help you understand your obligations: agriculture.gov.au/illegallogging.
You can direct any questions regarding your obligations under the illegal logging laws to the department or by phoning 1800 657 313.
In addition, you can subscribe to the department’s electronic mailing list to keep up to date on new developments with the illegal logging laws.