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Senator Amanda Vanstone
Minister for Family & Community Services
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women
Acting Minister for the Environment and Heritage

11 January 2002

New Measures to Streamline Wildlife Trade Laws


The Acting Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Amanda Vanstone, today welcomed the commencement of new legislation which supports sustainable wildlife trade activities, promotes conservation and tackles illegal wildlife smuggling.

"Sustainable wildlife trade makes a valuable contribution to the Australian economy and the Government has modernised the legislation to reduce red-tape for legitimate businesses," Senator Vanstone said.

"However, the illegal trade in wildlife is a serious global problem and this new legislation makes sure that Australia is equipped to fight the wildlife smugglers. Wildlife-related crime is estimated to be worth $6 billion per year and often said to be second only to drug trafficking."

"Under the old Act, it was very difficult to obtain a conviction for possession of illegally imported wildlife or wildlife products. Under the amended legislation, people prosecuted for possession of such items will have to show that they have been legally imported."

"This will give enforcement agencies an effective tool against organised wildlife smuggling. The Commonwealth will work with hobby groups and the pet industry to ensure that pet owners acting in good faith are not unfairly targeted by the new laws."

"The new legislation implements a streamlined and modernised system, reducing the administrative burdens on industry and government. It will simplify the assessment and permitting processes, making them more transparent and reducing the level of bureaucracy for industry."

"In addition, the changes to the legislation promote sustainable trade by clearing the way for individuals, businesses and organisations undertaking legitimate wildlife trade activities. For example the import of American Ginseng harvested in the USA and brought in as personal baggage will no longer require an import permit."

The new measures apply to export of native animals and plants, the import of live animals and plants and the export and import of species listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). They will:

The measures have been incorporated into the Commonwealth's principal environment legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, replacing the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982.

Controls will apply to transactions undertaken by museums, zoos, scientific institutions, commercial organisations, tourists, migrants and the general public. For more information on the new legislation contact Environment Australia on 1800 803 772 or visit the web site at
http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/trade-use/legislation.

Media enquiries: Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Anne-Marie Delahunt (Environment Australia) 02 6274 2240 or 0412 446 136

Commonwealth of Australia