A protestor who put an infant’s life in danger for the sake of a media stunt at a logging site in East Gippsland has been roundly criticised by the timber industry and the Victorian Government. Source: Timberbiz
Reports from the site said the protestor – believed to a member of the Goongerah Environment Centre – leapt from bushes where she hid from forest workers and attached herself to a machine while it was in operation with a baby clinging to her back.
The incident is believed to have happened on Friday on the Errinundra Plateau as part of an ongoing protest by the Goongerah Environment Centre.
The Australian Forest Contractors Association reported on Friday before news of the latest outrage had been made public that up to the end of 4 April three protesters had already been charged and bailed to appear at the Orbost Magistrates’ Court in July and that 10 Infringement Notices to be issued to protesters
It is also understood further infringements and charges were issued after 4 April.
“A workplace, one that is highly hazardous and adheres to a high level of safety, is no place for a child and we condemn the illegal activities of protesters that involve children and place their lives in danger,” AFCA GM Stacey Gardiner said.
It was later reported by Forest & Wood Communities Australia that the protestors had abandoned the Errinundra site.
“How insanely stupid can you be?” said FWCA Managing Director Justin Law.
“This is an example of what activist extremists call a peaceful protest and yet a small child could quite easily have been killed or seriously injured.
“How would you feel if you witnessed or were unwittingly made a part of such a tragedy? Yet this is what forest workers are subjected to on a weekly basis.”
VicForests CEO Monique Dawson on Twitter on Friday said that using a baby as a human shield in an illegal protest was a new low.
“Disgusting. Child protection services are being contacted to get this child out of danger. For mercies sake pull your head in before someone – including this child – gets killed,” Ms Dawson wrote.
The protestors replied on Twitter that “this is a peaceful protest. The only dangers are threats and intimidation from your loggers”.
The Victorian Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas said that while she respected the right to protest, the State Government would not tolerate the behaviour witnessed over recent days at the Arena coupe in East Gippsland.
“Any unauthorised entry into a Timber Harvest Safety Zone is not only illegal but is also very dangerous,” she said.
“No worker or their families should have their livelihood or wellbeing disrupted by illegal activities at their legitimate workplaces.
“We will continue to protect forestry contractors in their workplace, as clearly demonstrated by the actions we have taken over recent days to support the entry of machinery into the coupe so that harvesting operations can commence.
“We have dedicated more resources to … ensure those who are committing offences are appropriately dealt with,” she said.
“It is my expectation that non-authorised individuals entering these zones receive the full application of powers available to Authorised Officers and Victoria Police.”
Mr Law said workplace invasions had gone beyond the spirit of protest which had been twisted into a cash cow for extreme activism.
“There is no sound scientific reason for these actions,” Mr Law said.
“These invasions are based deadly ideology which serves no other purpose than to raise money.
“The organisations which trade in this sort of outrage do not care that it harms forest communities, regional economies or, apparently, innocent children.”