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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

25 August 2001

New Wildlife Laws a Boost for Australian Flora and Protea Growers

Red tape for wildlife trade has been dramatically reduced following the introduction of new laws by the Federal Government that will streamline processing of applications and remove the requirement that every individual floral specimen requires an export permit, according to the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone.

Opening the Australian Flora and Protea Growers Conference in Healesville this morning, Sharman Stone said that the regulation of wildlife exports had entered a new era with the passing of new, improved and simplified laws last month.

"We now have a system that will provide greater certainty and reduce costs for exporters, while protecting those rare and endangered species from exploitation by international smugglers", Sharman Stone said.

The new export permit system will operate on a fully transparent basis that can be followed on Environment Australia's website and will work closely with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, charged with protecting the integrity of our borders.

"Australia has some of the strictest quarantine laws in the world and we are determined to make sure that imports of flora and fauna are strictly monitored to make sure that no exotic pests or diseases enter the country".

Dr Stone said the new laws targeted the smuggling of rare plant species with strict penalties.

"In the last few weeks a major international smuggling operation was uncovered resulting in the arrest of a ring of cycad (palm) smugglers. After arrests in Australia and the United States, these individuals now face fines of up to $110,000 or 5 years jail for their involvement in trafficking endangered and threatened species".

The Federal Government is also contributing $2m toward the establishment of a Virtual Herbarium that will contain 'on-line' records of more than 6 million specimens of plants, algae, and fungi from around the country.

"This will be an invaluable tool for flora and protea growers across the country and will contain records dating back to the 1700s, including information on geographic distribution, description and name".

For further information contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
August 25th 2001

Commonwealth of Australia