A sawmilling company and three of its employees have been fined a total of $17,500 in the Charleville Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to stealing State-owned timber.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner said the fines sent a clear message that the theft of State-owned timber would not be tolerated.
“A joint investigation by officers from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy found 10 separate incidents from 8 December 2018 to 22 August 2019 of the company and its employees failing to properly account for State-owned cypress timber worth about $12,000,” Mr Furner said.
“In addition to the fines, DAF has determined the company and its employees are not fit and proper to undertake any further harvesting operations under the authority of the sales permit.
“These penalties send a clear message to anyone thinking of doing the wrong thing to think seriously about the implications of their behaviour, not only to themselves, but to other members of regional communities.”
Mr Furner said the evidence clearly showed that the theft of the timber was commercially motivated, intentional and systematic and in breach of the contractor’s obligations under the sales permit.
“As the company was aware of its obligations, failing to properly account for the timber represents a significant breach of trust,” he said.
“It also represents a callous disregard for other members of the community involved in the timber industry whose employment might be adversely affected by the actions of the company and its employees.”
Mr Furner said the investigation and prosecution by DAF demonstrated that the department took these matters seriously and would take appropriate action where required.
“Protecting the integrity of the sale and harvesting of State-owned native timber is fundamental to meeting the broader community’s rightful expectation that these operations are undertaken appropriately and in accordance with codes of practice, the operational harvesting plan and other legal requirements, including paying required royalties,” Mr Furner said.
“Failing to take strong action in cases such as this would have serious implications for the ongoing management of the State’s valuable native cypress and hardwood timber resources.
“DAF will continue to monitor operations against the terms of its sales permits to ensure that compliance is being achieved.”