Auditor-General report shows that Victorian Government is refusing to punish illegal logging

Australian Greens

A damning report released today by the Auditor-General has found that VicForests is not being effectively regulated, leaving our native forests at risk of further illegal logging.

The report found that the Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR) did not have the capability to rein in VicForests, and wasn’t able (or willing) to take any kind of enforcement action in response to illegal logging.

The report found:

  • OCR’s use of enforcement powers is limited, the OCR has not explored all enforcement options, and “there is no avenue available to issue infringement notices if noncompliance is identified for timber harvesting”.
  • OCR does not effectively evaluate its timber harvesting enforcement activities.
  • Where noncompliance is identified, the most common response was simply a ‘letter of advice’ or verbal warning, with no real ability to take any further enforcement action.

Over the past year a number of reports have alleged that VicForests has been involved in spying on environmentalists, illegal logging, and failing to regenerate forests they had already cleared.

Without adequate oversight or enforcement and regulation this outlaw organisation will only continue to run riot in our precious native forests.

Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said with Victoria’s threatened species list now topping 2,000, the Victorian Labor Government needed to bring VicForests to heel to protect our native forests and animals.

She said it was clear now that the Regulator needed to be both independent and have the power to actually punish and enforce illegal logging, which it has not done to date.

Last month the Victorian Greens launched their election plan to end native forest logging in Victoria next year.

The Greens’ plan would also reverse Labor’s laws that criminalise peaceful forest protesters and redeploy forestry workers to an emergency and disaster response team.

As stated by Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:

“This report shows the Labor Government manages the logging industry like it did Crown Casino – by letting them run riot without fear of consequence or reprisal.

“Labor continues to allow illegal logging, and by the time logging ends in 2030 there will be no old forest ecosystem left.

“The Victorian Labor Government only responds to political pressure when it comes to the environment. That’s why more Greens in Parliament is the only way to force the government to act sooner to save our native forests.”

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