After months of preparation, our legal team and supporters have gathered in Sale and begun the two-week Brown Mountain landmark trial.
Everything is going very well so far. It's difficult to report on a hearing that is in progress, particularly since we are the plaintiff, so this article might lack a few things.
Our lead barrister, Debbie Mortimer SC, spent Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in Court outlining what we say are the facts and the law, in a fascinating opening submission.
She spoke about the beautiful native wildlife that is central to our case, and the Court was treated to large pictures of the critters. It was almost surreal, but quite appropriate in our view, to see a team of lawyers in black gowns and wigs defending the furry, the feathered, the cray and the frog.
She said that VicForests has a number of legal responsibilities towards the environment, including endangered species, and that those responsibilities are inconsistent with logging at Brown Mountain.
For a more detailed summary of the first day's hearing, read this excellent article by The Age journalist Kate Hagen, who is attending the hearing Journalists from ABC Radio and Win TV (channel 9) are also attending the hearings.
VicForests' lead barrister Ian Waller SC started outlining VicForests' case this afternoon. When Court adjourned today, he said he still had about an hour to go, so we haven't got the full picture yet.
But generally speaking he contended that VicForests' responsibility to the environment wasn't anywhere near as strong as we made out, and was balanced by its requirement to create economic and social benefits. He said that, to the extent to which VicForests has responsibilities to the environment and native wildlife, it has fulfilled them.
Today (Wednesday), Justice Osborn and the legal teams are having a look at Brown Mountain first hand. It's not just a bushwalk, though; they will observe first hand some places and concepts about forests, logging and post-logging practices that will later on be discussed in Court.
On Thursday morning, VicForests' opening submissions will finish, then Environment East Gippsland will bring out our witnesses.
Court is open to the public. You are welcome to attend if you are in Sale, there have been a few people sitting quietly in the public area. If you drop in, please come up and say hello.