Police arrested four Bob Brown Foundation protestors in Tasmania’s Wentworth Hills on Monday after they stopped forestry activity at the site. The protestors had attached themselves to logging machinery. Source: Timberbiz
It follows the arrest of two protesters at Artec’s woodchip mill in Bell Bay two weeks ago, three arrests in Wentworth Hills on February 1 and multiple arrests at protests in the Eastern Tiers late last year, including of Bob Brown himself.
The arrests come as the foundation launches Supreme Court action over Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s refusal to grant a permit for the annual Takayna Trail ultra-marathon next month. A directions hearing to be held on Thursday morning.
The BBF uses the event to raise funds for its causes but has held a range of protests against STT activity in recent months including this week’s Wentworth Hills protest.
The foundation has been at STT’s Wentworth Hills operations since late-January, including eight days of protests, as part of an escalation in protest activity following its defeat in the Federal Court.
The Federal Court ruled 3-0 against the foundation’s argument that the state’s Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) contradicted federal laws and was therefore invalid.
STT chief executive officer Steve Whiteley said its focus was on doing a “selective log” in those areas.
“They’ve asked us to think about very large trees, and we’re doing some work at the moment to look to retain those,” he said.
“In terms of old growth, a lot of it is around single specimens rather than old growth forest. We’re looking to modify our processes to retain those trees in the landscape where we can do it safely.
“That’s some of the work that we’re doing, and we want to be able to show the auditor in a couple of year’s time that it’s safe. What we’re not going to do is put guys like the contractors at risk, so we’re not going to tell them to go under an unsafe tree and try to do their work.”
The foundation’s Jenny Weber said the protestors shut down logging of the oldest forests “giving Premier Gutwein the opportunity to protect the old growth forested endangered species habitat”.
“He failed again and chose to send in the police instead of choosing to protect these critical native forests,” she said.
Resources Minister Guy Barnett said the protests were occurring on Permanent Timber Production Zone land, which was set aside for harvesting by both houses of parliament.
“We support the right to protest peacefully but dangerous actions are unacceptable and at a time when we desperately need to protect jobs and regional economies,” he said.
“This is a perfect example of why workplace protection laws are needed in Tasmania.”