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

Ministers Announce Changes to Woodchip Export Monitoring

31 October 1996
(DPIE 96/118A)

The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, and the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, today announced changes to native hardwood woodchip export monitoring arrangements.

The Ministers said the changes were based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Woodchip Export Monitoring, which conducted the review of monitoring arrangements announced in July when the Government outlined changes to the woodchip export licensing system.

The Advisory Committee includes representatives from the Department of Environment, Sport and Territories and the Prime Minister's Forests Task Force, and provides advice to the Woodchip Export Monitoring Unit (WEMU).

Under existing arrangements, the WEMU is located in the Department of Primary Industries and Energy (DPIE) and reports to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy through the First Assistant Secretary of the Land Resources Division. This Division administers woodchip exports.

The Ministers said public confidence in the monitoring arrangements would be improved if WEMU's operations were conducted at arms length from the administration of the licensing system.

They said the Unit would now report directly to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy.

"In addition, the advisory committee will be upgraded to an advisory board chaired by the Executive Director of DPIE's Agriculture and Forests Group, also reporting directly to the Minister."

The Ministers said another significant change to the existing arrangements was a requirement that hardwood woodchip exporters must provide audited annual reports on compliance with licence conditions.

The key features of the new auditing system are:

The Ministers said the Unit would continue to investigate alleged breaches of woodchip export licence conditions.

They said State forest agencies, which were responsible for forest management and the enforcement of codes of practice, would continue to report routinely to WEMU on exporters' compliance with licence conditions.

The State agencies and exporters are subject to random audits by WEMU.

Further inquiries:

Robert Haynes, Minister's office, 06 277 7520; 0419 493 511

Bob Schufft, Monitoring Unit, 06 272 3580

Commonwealth of Australia