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A QUEENSLAND importer has been hit with a $12,600 fine for “ongoing non-compliance” with Australia’s illegal logging laws.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the company is the first to be penalised under the legislation.

Assistant agriculture minister Richard Colbeck said the penalty was a reminder to importers and processors about obligations under Australia’s illegal logging laws.

“The company had been directed to provide information on its due diligence for sourcing timber, and failed to comply,” Mr Colbeck said.

“My department issues directions for a reason and they must be complied with. The Government has worked very closely with industry during the implementation of these laws including a period of soft commencement to make sure businesses had the opportunity to ensure their systems were adequate to demonstrate compliance.”

Mr Colbeck said illegal logging had significant global economic, environmental, and social impacts and undercut legal and legitimate timber producers in Australia.

“Estimates of the global cost of illegal logging are between $71bn and $212bn each year,” the minister said.

“Under Australia’s illegal logging laws, any business or individual that fails to effectively undertake due diligence to assess and manage the risk that the wood or paper in their imported products is from illegally harvested timber can face significant financial penalties.

“Now we have our first prosecution for a failure to comply with this requirement.”

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Mr Colbeck said Australians could be confident the timber produced locally came from reputable and sustainable sources.

“This year my department will continue to undertake audits to assess compliance with the illegal logging laws, to help ensure that illegally logged imported timber does not enter the Australian market,” he said.

“We will continue to support businesses and individuals in understanding their responsibilities under the illegal logging laws, but there will be consequences for those not complying.”

A review of the first five years of the operation of Australia’s Illegal logging Prohibition Act 2012 has recently been completed and is available at the departmental website.

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