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Joint Statement
Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson
Minister for Environment, Senator Robert Hill

Government Introduces Woodchip Export Regulations


18 September 1996
(DPIE96/88A)

The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, the Hon John Anderson MP, has introduced new regulations controlling the export of hardwood woodchips derived from native forests.

The regulations implement the new woodchip export licensing regime announced by the Government in July.

The key features of the regime are:

The Ministers said the new arrangements represented a significant improvement on the ill-conceived regulations introduced by Labor last year and would operate during the transitional period leading up to the completion of Regional Forest Agreements.

"They are a demonstration of the constructive working relationship we have forged with the States in forest policy and will allow us to work harmoniously towards implementing all the objectives of the National Forest Policy Statement," they said.

"But it should be noted that if the States fail in the challenge of implementing RFAs by 1 January 2000, and we are confident they will not, they face the certainty that they will not have a woodchip export industry."

Mr Anderson and Senator Hill said the regulations were consistent with the Government's commitment to providing protection for high conservation value forests and security for forest industries.

The regulations require the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy to ensure export licences protect areas which may be required for a CAR forest reserve system.

Senator Hill said the export volumes under woodchip licences represent upper limits, and did not limit the capacity of the Commonwealth and the States to enter into new arrangements through Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).

"There will be no ceiling on woodchip exports from areas covered by RFAs as the agreements will be comprehensive blueprints for the ecologically sustainable management of Australia's native forests, including the protection of CAR reserves."

Mr Anderson said he had received applications to export up to 10 million tonnes of hardwood woodchips and he was now considering them against criteria set down in the regulations.

The Ministers expressed the hope that the three year licences to be issued under the new regulations would allow exporters to negotiate export sales with some certainty.

"Restoring Australia's reputation as a reliable supplier of a quality product in international markets is a key objective, following the disastrous impacts of the two- - stage licensing process introduced by the former Labor Government", they said.

Senator Hill said that along with the Government's provision of $48 million in the Budget to progress the RFAs, the prohibition on exports from non-RFA areas from 2000 will help to ensure the protection of the environmental and heritage values of our forests".

The Ministers said the measures introduced in these regulations confirmed the Government's commitment to the RFA process.

"The result of this process will be a world class forest reserve system and an innovative, internationally competitive and ecologically sustainable forest industry."

Media Contact:
Robert Haynes, Mr Anderson's office, 06 2777520/0419 493 511
Matt Brown, Senator Hill's office, 06 2777640/0419 693 515

Commonwealth of Australia