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LEGALITY

LEGALITY

Importers, buyers and users of wood panel products must comply with a number of legal obligations.

The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 came into force in November 2012 to ensure that timber products have not been sourced from illegally logged forests.

It is now an offence to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly import illegally sourced timber including wood panel products such as Plywood, LVL, particleboard and MDF.

To conform to the requirements a suitable due diligence process needs to be undertaken.

The due diligence requirements are not designed to be a significant burden on your business. In most cases, it is expected that you should be able to rely on existing or modified systems and practices to comply with the new requirements.

More detailed guidance on the due diligence process and the regulations can be found in the due diligence documents published by the federal Department of Agriculture (DA) which can be found at: www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/policies/illegal-logging/information-res...

The FWPA has published a set of guidance materials and a model due diligence system, which is available free of charge by registering at: 

www.timberduediligence.com.au

Due diligence can be summarised as a four-step process:

  • Step 1. Gathering information about the timber or timber product you are importing
  • Step 2. If appropriate, using a timber legality framework or country-specific guidelines.
  • Step 3. Assessing the risk the timber or timber product you are importing has been illegally logged
  • Step 4. Where necessary, undertaking extra steps to reduce the risk the timber you are importing has been illegally logged

Importers will also be asked to make a declaration to Customs about compliance with the due diligence requirements. This will be in the form of a Community Protection Question asked as part of the import declaration process. 

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CODE (formerly the BCA)

There is also a legal requirement on contractors to ensure that products that conform to the required standards are used. Examples include the National Construction Code (NCC, formerly the Building Code of Australia, BCA) for plywood. 

For example, regulations on structural plywood used in buildings include references to a number of Australian standards. The NCC Volume 2 references AS/NZS 2269: Plywood – Structural for wall cladding and this standard is also referenced by other Australian standards. These standards require structural plywood to be branded to reflect stress grades, the Australian standards they have met, and the manufacturer’s name or registered trademark.

Building surveyors and inspectors who carry out frame inspections should ensure any structural plywood is appropriately branded in accordance with AS/NZS 2269:2012 Plywood – Structural. If the product does not have the correct markings or you cannot verify that it meets the requirement of the Australian standard then it does not comply with the NCC and the legal requirements will not be met.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF AUSTRALIAN CONSUMER LAW (ACL) AND THE COMPETITION AND CONSUMER ACT 2010 (CCA)

There are significant legal requirement defined in Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Product claims on labelling, packaging or promotional material, including claims made about the product’s compliance with mandatory and voluntary standards must be able to be substantiated. Specifically, the ACL prohibits businesses from giving a false or misleading impression about their goods or services. Businesses must not engage in conduct that misleads or deceives or is likely to mislead or deceive and must not make false or misleading representations about the quality or characteristics of its goods or services, including its:

  • History
  • Place of origin 
  • Standard, quality, grade, nature or composition of or manufacturing process
  • Sponsorship or approval
  • Performance characteristics.

EWPAA has found that some imported products make false claims about their performance. Product testing may be sought to substantiate claims about product compliance with relevant standards. It should be noted that most wood panels standards have a particular requirement for testing with a statistical significant number of samples required to demonstrate compliance to the standard. A one-off sample cannot substantiate compliance.

We believe the best way to ensure that you purchase products that comply with standards is to ensure they are certified by a third party such as the EWPAA.

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) covers most areas of the market: the relationships between suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. Its purpose is to enhance the welfare of Australians by promoting fair trading and competition, and through the provision of consumer protections.

Broadly, it covers:

  • Product safety and labelling
  • Unfair market practices
  • Price monitoring
  • Industry codes
  • Industry regulation – airports, electricity, gas, telecommunications
  • Mergers and acquisitions.

 

Schedule 2 – the Australian Consumer Law

The Australian Consumer Law (Schedule 2 of the CCA) covers misleading or deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, unfair practices, conditions and warranties, product safety and information, liability of manufacturers for goods with safety defects offences, country of origin representations.

For more details of the Act and the consumer law follow this link.

CCA on ComLaw (link is external)

FROM ACCC Website- testing guidance

To view the ACCC guidance on testing visit

https://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/974066