Buzz from the Beehive: Little is bound for Geneva while Nash is gunning for illegal timber traders

It wasn’t exactly the calm we expected before the tsunami of Budget initiatives that will be posted this afternoon along with documents that will record fiscal and economic forecasts and detailed estimates of appropriations.

Three announcements were made ahead of the Budget speech.

Partly there was an echo of yesterday’s news.

There was a travel announcement – while Export and Trade Growth Minister Damien O’Connor is headed for Thailand, Health Minister  Andrew Little will represent New Zealand at the first in-person World Health Assembly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland.

And there was an announcement of an assault on crime. – whereas Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta was chuffed about legislation she believes “will help prevent serious criminal offending at sea”, Forestry Minister Stuart Nash has introduced legislation to reflect the government’s commitment to trade only in legally harvested timber.

Under the Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill, timber harvested in New Zealand and overseas, and used in products made here or imported, will have to be verified as being legally harvested.

“The new system will strengthen the reputation of our forestry and wood processing exports, safeguard our market access, and reduce the risk that we import illegally-harvested timber,” Stuart Nash said.

Interpol estimates the international trade in illicitly harvested timber is valued at between USD51 to 152 billion annually and accounts for 15 to 30 percent of all timber traded globally.

New Zealand’s timber product imports have increased by approximately 70 per cent over the last decade, which raises a risk of New Zealand being a conduit for the illegal timber trade if it does not introduce timber legality assurance measures.

Trees or timber products will be deemed legal if they are harvested by a person who has a legal right to harvest the trees or plants for use or sale, and the person complies with laws in the place where the harvest occurs.

Further information about the Bill is available on the MPI website here and at the Parliament website here.

 Latest from the Beehive

18 MAY 2022

Health Minister to attend World Health Assembly in Geneva

Health Minister Andrew Little will represent New Zealand at the first in-person World Health Assembly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland.

New efforts to counter illegal timber trade

New Zealand is committing to trade only in legally harvested timber with the Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament today.

Deaths in New Zealand lower than expected so far during the pandemic

The Government has welcomed the release today of StatsNZ data showing the rate at which New Zealanders died from all causes during the COVID-19 pandemic has been lower than expected.

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