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Customs and Excise Amendment Bill

Customs and Excise (Sustainable Forestry) Amendment Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki

Thursday 18 November 2009; 5.30pm

Mr Speaker, this Bill amends the Customs and Excise Act 1996 to prohibit the importation of illegally and unsustainably produced timber and wood products into New Zealand.

The sponsor of this Bill talked about doing the right thing tonight.

And when we think of the right thing, the Maori Party knows that what is right is to keep our natural resources and environment healthy, safe and intact for everyone and for future generations.

Forestry, of course, is extremely important to Maori.  Some estimates put total Maori forestry interests at more than 1.2 million hectares.

And we have a unique interest in forestry within the distinct context of collective ownership and management.

But we know also that the economic benefits of international trade agreements need to be balanced with consideration of local, regional, national progress and environmental enhancement.

And so, in thinking of the other values that might be useful for this debate, I think of the concept of our forest and the significance of it to our identity.

We have many names that symbolise the importance of the forest to our identity -  ngahere, ngāherehere, nehenehe, ngahengahe, wao, waonui and waoku.

We treasure the scope for the forest for its beauty, spiritual presence, and bountiful supply of food, medicines, and weaving and building materials.

And so in this context, we have been alarmed at the issues of illegal logging in the context of the value we place on forestry.

We share the views of indigenous peoples around the world, that tropical forests are critical to the survival and well-being of people around the world. We appreciate that many people depend on forests for food, shelter, income, medicine, and clean water.

And so we are greatly concerned at the laundering of illegal timber from some of the world's most endangered forests.

The Report 'Sharing the Blame: Global Consumption and China's Role in Ancient Forest Destruction', documents illegally logged timber, particularly from the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific, being shipped to China.

There, it is made into furniture, flooring and plywood for domestic consumption and for export to satisfy the rising, global demand for inexpensive wood products.

The Bill makes it illegal to import into Aotearoa  timber and wood products that are not from a verified legal and certified sustainable source.

We support the move to establish a new schedule that lists verified legal and certified sustainable timber and wood production certification schemes.

Finally, we are aware that Greenpeace is urging China and the other 187 signatory nations to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to protect the world's last ancient forests up by establishing a global network of protected forest areas, to ban the trade in illegally and destructively logged wood products and to introduce a legally binding mechanism under the CBD to combat illegal and destructive logging.

We welcome this move, and in this light, we welcome this Bill and we will support it through to select committee to allow the korero to proceed.




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