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PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY INTO AUSTRALIA’S TRADE IN IVORY AND RHINOCEROS HORN BEGINS - Media Release, Tuesday 3 July 2018

SENATOR THE HON LISA SINGH
LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA
DEPUTY CHAIR, PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON
LAW ENFORCEMENT
       
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement held its first public hearing into Australia’s domestic trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn in Sydney today.
 
This inquiry, initiated by Senator Singh, is an opportunity to determine how Australia can keep pace with other OECD countries in closing the legal loopholes in domestic ivory markets to ensure Australia is not contributing to wildlife trafficking.
 
Witnesses from non-government organisations, the Commonwealth Government, auction houses and antique valuers will testify at the inquiry. 
 
The 2016 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Wildlife Crime Report ­– Trafficking in protected species identified Australia as a destination and transit country for ivory.
 
Between 20,000 and 50,000 elephants are killed each year to supply the illegal ivory trade around the globe, while three of the planet’s five rhinoceros species are critically endangered.
 
Wildlife trafficking and trade must be recognized as a serious crime.
 
This inquiry will investigate whether law enforcement agencies, including the Australian Border Force, are receiving critical training to identify the legitimacy of provenance documentation as well as the age of rhino horn and ivory products imported into Australia.
 
Whilst China, the United States, Hong Kong, the European Union and the United Kingdom have all either banned or begun implementing a ban on domestic trade in ivory, Australia’s trade remains unregulated.
 
Labor welcomes the UK government’s plan to legislate a ban on the sale of ‘modern day ivory’ and looks forward to learning from their approach.
 
The Committee will hear from witnesses in Melbourne, Perth and Canberra over the next 7 days.
 
TUESDAY, 3 JULY 2018
MEDIA CONTACT:  TAIMUS WERNER-GIBBINGS 0429 820 344
  
KEY POINTS

  • In the last decade alone, 322 imported and 79 exported ivory items have been confiscated by Australian authorities, along with 24 rhinoceros products.
  • Investigations of online traders, auction houses and antique dealers in Australia have identified legal and illegal domestic markets for ivory and rhinoceros horn worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • There is also currently no legal requirement in Australia for domestic sellers to provide any evidence at the point of sale demonstrating the legality, provenance or age of the specimen.
  • The Senate inquiry will examine:
    • Whether Australia’s legal, domestic market for these products is contributing to poaching or illegal trade, and whether Australia should take more legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to restrict or close its market.
    • The extent of the commercial and illegal domestic trade in these products, and whether existing arrangements and resources for the screening of imports and exports of them are adequate in Australia.
    • Whether law enforcement agencies and customs officials are receiving critical training to identify the legitimacy of provenance documentation as well as the age of rhino horn and ivory products imported into Australia.


Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.