Protesters held up logging operations for three hours in Tasmania’s remote west in the first forestry conflict since the High Court shot down the state’s tough workplace protection laws. Source: ABC News
Eight protesters gathered at a Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) logging coupe 100 kilometres east of Arthur River on Monday morning. They claim logging has destroyed ancient trees and rainforest in the Tarkine area, which they want protected.
“These ancient forests that have been undisturbed for millennia have now been destroyed for woodchips and supplied to the controversial Borneo logging and palm oil giant Ta Ann,” Jenny Weber from the Bob Brown Foundation said.
In a statement, an SST spokesman said the area was classified as production forest.
“The harvesting operation is located on Permanent Timber Production Zone land that has been specifically set aside for the purpose of supplying timber to industry,” he said.
“The harvesting operation is important to meet the supply of eucalypt and special species sawlogs in the north west of the state.”
The company halted harvesting operations due to safety concerns following the arrival of the protesters.
Tasmania Police are investigating and charges are yet to be laid. Western District Commander Jonathan Higgins said enquires were continuing.
“This morning police were notified of a small demonstration halting a log truck on Tayatea Road, Trowutta,” he said.
“When local police arrived, the eight protesters were spoken to and moved on without incident after having disrupted the journey of the log truck for just over three hours.”
In October last year the High Court overturned several sections of the Liberal Government’s anti-protest laws, finding they were at odds with the freedom of political communication.
The laws carried on-the-spot fines of $10,000 for individual protesters as well as jail time for second offences, and gave police the power to stop protests before they happened.
The laws were challenged by former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, who was charged under them while protesting at Forestry Tasmania coupe at Lapoinya.
The charges were later dropped, but Mr Brown persisted with the High Court challenge. The decision in his favour rendered those laws useless and could not apply to Monday’s protest.
Mr Brown described the site of today’s protests as a “stunning rainforest”.
“I first crossed the then-remote Rapid River in a walking expedition looking for the Tasmanian tiger in 1973,” he said.
“In 2018, [Premier Will] Hodgman, who has never been within cooee of this wild forest, has issued its death knell through clump clearfelling, extraction for Malaysian logging giant Ta Ann, and then incineration killing all remaining wildlife.”
Braddon Liberal MP Joan Rylah said the protest action was “hypocritical”, accusing the group of “fabricating” a political issue to benefit the Greens in Braddon.
“These disruptive actions put Circular Head jobs at risk, and are an example of the kind of hypocrisy we can expect from the Greens and associated environmental groups,” she said.
“Rapid 5C was part of the working forests of the Permanent Timber Production Zone agreed and signed-off by environmental signatories under the Labor-Green forest deal, including the Wilderness Society and Australian Conservation Foundation.”