Australia Timber Qld demands hardwood export ban
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Queensland's peak timber body is calling for an immediate two-year suspension of all native hardwood exports amid a rise in suspect exports to Asia.
Timber Queensland is calling on the federal government to cease exports for at least two years - and up to five years - to allow a crackdown on rogue operators shipping native hardwoods overseas.
TQ hardwood division chair Curly Tatnell said hardwood exports have surged to 360,000 cubic metres in the past three years, much of it destined for China and Asia.
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TQ has also heard of timber yards and log truck volumes destined to ports well above the numbers official ABS statistics for hardwood exports.
Mr Tatnell said native hardwoods could be being illegally miscategorised as plantation pine logs or sawn timber products before being shipped overseas.
"We are calling for an export suspension for at least two years, which could be reassessed at that time for up to five years, in terms of progress against the necessary measures needed to confidently assess compliance," Mr Tatnell said.
TQ has previously asked both the federal and Queensland governments to implement a stricter compliance regime in the past, but they say no actions have been taken.
Mr Tatnell said under current settings, operators are easily able to acquire export licenses without any systematic auditing or checking of regulatory compliance.
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He said TQ is concerned there has been widespread breaches of state and federal laws, poor biosecurity practices, misreported volumes or log categories to avoid detection and unsafe work practices.
"Not only is this a threat to the environment and good forest management, it is damaging the local hardwood industry and reputation of the industry as a whole," Mr Tatnell said.
"It really is a kick in the guts to the thousands of workers and local timber businesses that are fully compliant with the regulatory requirements.
"Fly by night operators, flagrantly abusing the rules cannot be tolerated by industry and should not be tolerated by governments."
TQ is calling for a review of the shortfalls and risks of the current compliance regime, develop appropriate protocols and processes for auditing and compliance and to coordinate regulation across both levels government.
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