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JOINT STATEMENT BY
FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE MINISTER ROBERT HILL AND
FEDERAL JUSTICE AND CUSTOMS MINISTER AMANDA VANSTONE

29 November 2000

CRACKING DOWN ON WILDLIFE CRIME


National and international wildlife crime experts have gathered in Canberra to discuss the most effective ways of tackling this global problem.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and Customs Minister Amanda Vanstone welcomed the beginning of the Wildlife Crime 2000 Conference (29-30 November), saying it will improve protection for Australian wildlife.

"On an international scale, the level of illegal activity involving wildlife related crime is estimated, in economic terms, to be worth $6 billion per year, second only to drug trafficking," Senator Hill said.

"In relation to Australian species, black cockatoos can sell for $30,000 a pair and Black-headed Pythons are worth $28,000 on the global market."

Senator Hill said while Australia has some of the most stringent legislation of any country when it comes to the protection of its native wildlife, the Wildlife Crime 2000 Conference will bring agencies such as Environment Australia, the Australian Customs Service, Australia Post and the Australian Federal Police together with international groups such as Interpol, the CITES Secretariat, EU Enforcement and the New Zealand Wildlife Enforcement Group.

Senator Vanstone said while Customs officers have a high strike rate in tackling wildlife smugglers, there is still much to be done.

"In particular, species of reptiles, birds, plants and crustaceans/shells are considered 'collectable' items and, with their export in most cases being prohibited under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982, are only obtainable overseas through illegal means," she said.

"A recent case occurred at Melbourne Airport earlier this year when Customs officers apprehended a man found with 31 Australian geckoes. Illegal wildlife trade carries a penalty of up to $110,000 and 10 years in jail or both for individuals and for a company/corporation up to $550,000.

"I hope that by bringing together the national and international delegates at this conference, we can build upon the technical skills of wildlife crime investigators and encourage continued cooperation on wildlife crime issues," Senator Vanstone said.

Contacts:
Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Kevin Donnellan (Senator Vanstone) (02) 6277 7260 or 0419 400 078

Commonwealth of Australia