In a six week frenzy of destruction, during March and April, four coupes totaling 90 hectares of Goolengooks best forest were clearfelled. It is estimated to have cost the police and NRE up to $2 million to carry out the operation. The royalty gained from the destruction of these timeless forests was a piddling $100,000.
Seventy eight people were arrested during that time mostly on the very questionable charge of willful trespass. This will soon be challenged in court. Despite the NRE quoting which section of which Act gave them the power to detain and force people out of the forest, it appears to simply have been a bluff tactic. Legal advice suggests that its not possible to trespass in a public forest that isnt fenced.
NRE erected huge gates on the roads leading into the camp, some 20-30 km from the logging. These had 24 hour guards often bored fisheries staff forced to do overtime. Police were stationed there 24 hours with generators, flood lights, sniffer dogs, infrared heat detectors, and every possible toy imaginable to carry out an army style operation.
When the five year blockade was broken up, property was confiscated and burnt; university books, bikes, camping gear, all went missing believed burnt at the site or dumped at the local tip. The private property was described as “17 tonnes of rubbish” that had to be cleaned up.
Dirty tricks campaign.
The new PR firm employed by NRE was on the ball and ready with media releases (self-generated media with no one to contradict the stories). Razor wire was found (having conveniently been dropped off a week before by a non-blockader). They found a spoon with milk powder on and claimed the camp was using hard drugs. Every tool with a sharp edge was gathered and called a cache of weapons. The “temporary exclusion zone” effectively kept all independent observers out who may have reported a different story. One film maker was on site that day and documented the burning property. The NRE towed his vehicle away and demanded $700 to have it released from the NRE pound. This could be considered as theft as no warning was given. The NRE enforcement officer, Tim Collins, allegedly punched this same film maker in the stomach while he was filming, having first placed a sheet of paper in front of the camera lens.
Peter Rutherford from the NRE made media claims that all the trees were used to make high quality paper and furniture. The final porkie to decorate their last media story of the event. My, what creative writing is done on NRE letterhead.