Goolengook conservationists receive record fines

In comparison with the story on page 4, the first two conservationists who were charged at Goolengook earlier this year received fines of $4750 and $4555. The first also scored a three month suspended sentence for 18 months (has to behave himself for 18 months or hell go in). He faced three charges including obstructing lawful logging and refusing to leave an area of state forest. The other person was 10 km from the logging and was operating as an official first aid person.

These charges and fines will be appealed. The magistrate who handed down these fines has been described as being past his use by date. This is Magistrate Lewis, the famous hanging judge from Orbost.

Libs plan to make forests off-limits to public

Its being tried on again – a new bill introduced by the Victorian Liberals would guarantee publicly owned forests are locked up solely for clearfelling, with laws to prohibit the public from entering these forests.

The proposed legislation would entrench confrontation in public forests as well as continued local extinctions, water degradation, massive subsidies and so on.

This is hardly a step forward to deal with the public outrage over clearfelling public forests. It simply makes a law to benefit a small few at the cost of the majority of people and the environment. If a new conservation find was made it could not be saved unless an area of equal log value was chopped from a park or reserve to give the industry as a swap.

So whats different from the situation now under Bracks? The Liberals Bill would entrench the RFA into law, rather than the joke of an agreement that it is now.

Introduced to the Upper House, the Forest Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2002, declares areas of non-reserved state forest as ‘work zones’. This would put all public forests off limits to the public where the industry is clearfelling, making it illegal to use these areas for bushwalking or picnicking. Very similar to past Minister Tehans picnic permit areas, only it would cover all of Victoria.

The Bill would also change the law to allow the arrest and charging of members of the public for trying to stop illegal logging operations. Countless incidents of unlawful logging have been recorded, yet the government and the DNRE do nothing when these incidents are exposed. They are now wanting to charge those who expose it rather than clean up the logging.

People are currently charged with “obstructing a lawful logging operation”. Since so many protesters have been easily able to prove that the logging was in breach of various codes, the Bill changes the wording to “obstruct an approved logging operation”.

With the Liberal leadership spill and the concern over forests at this upcoming election, were not sure if either party will pursue this yet. However, we hear Labor is drafting its own version of this stymie-the-public-and-give-it-all-to-our-mates Bill. Either way it sounds like a law to make the unlawful and unjust, legal.

Jill / TWS

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