14 Mar 2012

Forestry groups wary of Australian legislation

8:21 pm on 14 March 2012

The forestry sector fears proposed legislation in Australia blocking illegally harvested timber could have an impact in New Zealand.

The Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill is intended to block timber imports from operations like clear felling tropical rain forests.

The bill is currently before the Australian House of Representatives.

New Zealand's Wood Processors Association and Timber Industry Federation say the language is so vague it risks catching in its net sustainable operations, such the radiata pine industry.

Industry representatives also believe the legislation could be so onerous that people in Australia might become reluctant to import in the first place.

New Zealand has made a submission on the bill defending this country's timber business.

Forestry exports are worth $4.5 billion a year - a fifth of this in sales to Australia.

Wood Processors Association chief executive Jon Tanner says the bill is vague and a trade barrier, dressed up as environmental protection.

He says legal wood could get snared in the legislative web, along with paper and packaging products that are used by exporters in other sectors.