Shadow Assistant Minister for Forestry, Gary Blackwood, is calling on Victoria’s Police Minister Lisa Neville to confirm if forestry protesters will be fined under strict COVID-19 Stay-at-Home directions. Source: Timberbiz
Mr Blackwood said a number of protests in recent weeks had greatly disrupted timber harvesting operations across the State and there had been no announcement to date if these protesters were facing fines under the directions.
Protestors have reportedly been active near Warburton, north-east of Melbourne, and there have been ongoing clashes in the Central Highlands area.
Police were called after campers set up between Powelltown and Gembrook south-east of Melbourne recently.
The timber industry as well as the National Party and the CFMEU have blasted the State Government’s inaction over the protests.
Mr Blackwood said both the Premier Daniel Andrews Ms Neville had been very clear with the public when it comes to the Stay-at-Home directions.
“Unless you are leaving home for a valid reason determined in the directions you face a fine of $1650,” Mr Blackwood said.
“Contractors are telling me that their operations are being interrupted by protesters chaining themselves to equipment or suspending themselves in treetops.
“These protesters are even posting up photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages looking to share their illegal actions,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews and the Police Minister need to be consistent on these restrictions and fines being issued.
‘You’ll cop a $1650 fine for heading to the park to kick a footy with mates or if you’re out walking in too large a group, but you won’t cop a fine for travelling 100km from home to lock yourself to a dozer on a worksite.”
Under Victoria’s strict Covid-19 Stage 3 restrictions which came into effect on 30 March there are only four reasons for people to be out of their homes.
They are for shopping, medical or compassionate needs, exercise “in compliance with the public gathering requirements” and work or study.
“That doesn’t stack up and it is no wonder Victorians are confused by who the rules do and don’t apply to,” Mr Blackwood said.