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.