A PROPOSED ban on products made with illegally logged wood will damage Australia's international relations, parliament has been told.
The Senate is debating a government bill that bans the importation and sale of any products which contain illegally logged timber.
Opposition senator Richard Colbeck said the coalition would not support the plan because the federal government would not make some "sensible modifications."
He said many of Australia's trading partners had expressed concerns.
"We don't want to provide a blunt instrument for rogue environmental groups to attack legitimate businesses," Senator Colbeck told the chamber.
A bilateral approach would be better, he said.
Greenpeace claims 80 per cent of timber exported from Papua New Guinea was illegally logged, based on the organisation's own definition, Senator Colbeck said.
"If a government says to us something is legal than who are we to say that it is not," he said.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne spoke in support of the bill.
Senator Milne pointed to the impact illegal logging had in causing floods and landslides in the Philippines last year. Up to 1000 people were killed.
Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football field was illegally cleared, according to a World Bank report, she said.
People buying outdoor wooden furniture had no idea whether imported timber products had come from illegally-logged forests because there was no certification.
The Greens will move amendments to strengthen the bill.
Debate on the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2012 continues.
Liberal senator Ian Macdonald said Australia once had a sustainable forest sector but the Greens had slowly destroyed what was a major industry.
"This bill wouldn't be needed if Australia had continued its vibrant, sustainable native forest industry," he told the chamber.
Australians and local companies imported illegally-logged wood from the Asia-Pacific whereas previously the nation had exported timber.
"Thanks Greens party, you have contributed to the raping and pillaging of some very special tropical timbers in countries in South-East Asia and in the Pacific," Senator Macdonald said.