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Date:

8 July 2006

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News

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Papua New Guinea

Greens support govt's PNG logging stance

Australia - Greens leader Bob Brown has backed Forestry Minister Eric Abetz's criticism of illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.

But Senator Brown says the government cannot afford to "point the finger" while clear felling continues in Australian forests.

Senator Abetz told The Australian newspaper he agreed with assertions that the "vast majority" of rainforest logging in PNG was illegal.

The comments follow a speech to the Timber Communities Australia (TCA) annual conference in May when he claimed campaigning against the Australian timber industry was supporting a market for "illegal logging and the pillaging" of forests in PNG, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Solomon Islands.

Senator Brown welcomed the forestry minister's stance, saying it was a "great opportunity" for Senator Abetz to put import controls on illegal logging.

"He says there's $452 million worth of illegally logged product coming into Australia each year," Senator Brown said.

"He should move to stop that and he'll have my backing and the backing of the Greens."

But Senator Brown has already distanced himself from the unlikely alliance.

"The problem for the Australian government is that they can't point the finger because of the destructive clearfell logging in Tasmania, East Gippsland and elsewhere that's continuing to occur in this country," he said.

"If Australia now had an ethically-based logging industry based on plantations, as New Zealand has, Eric Abetz would be in a much stronger position to criticise."

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Chatham House is assessing the scale and effectiveness of the response to illegal logging and the related trade around the world. Full details of this work, including analysis and data, will be available online soon.