The Senate’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement has agreed to launch an inquiry into Australia’s domestic trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn, proposed by Senator Lisa Singh.
This inquiry provides an opportunity to scrutinise the extent of the commercial trade in these products, and whether existing arrangements and resources for the screening of imports and exports in them are adequate.
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, within Australia it remains unregulated.
Between 20,000 and 50,000 elephants are killed each year to supply the illegal ivory trade around the globe, while just last week we lost Sudan – the planet’s last male Northern White Rhinoceros.
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 for domestic sellers to provide any evidence at the point of sale demonstrating the legality, provenance or age of the specimen.
In the last decade alone, 322 imported and 79 exported ivory items have been confiscated by Australian authorities, along with 24 rhinoceros products.
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.
It will also examine whether Australia’s legal domestic market is contributing to poaching or illegal trade, and whether Australia should take more legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to further restrict, or even close, its domestic markets for commercial trade in these products.
The Committee has agreed to report on this inquiry by 18 October 2018.