Bacon under pressure on forests



HOBART — A growing protest movement is targeting the forest practices of the Tasmanian Labor government, including woodchipping, clearfelling and the use of 1080 poison. A "walk for change" attracted up to 2000 people on October 4, marching to Forestry Tasmania headquarters. It was organised by the newly formed Walk For Change.

Huon Valley environmentalist Neil Cremasco told Green Left that the rally "was another example of the community rising up against what they see as Labor and Liberal governments putting corporate power before the will of the people".

Cremasco said the protest movement is going "well beyond the traditional green movement". "A lot of this is being organised by timber workers from across the state. Since the signing of the regional forest agreement [in 1997], which really lifted the lid off woodchip quotas, communities around Tasmania have logging operations next to them like never before. This means the economic, social and environmental unfairness of logging Tasmania-style is now visible to everybody", Cremasco said.

"People are losing their local environment and not seeing any jobs come out of it", Cremasco pointed out. "They're seeing Forestry Tasmania — a government business enterprise — losing huge amounts of money and at the same time seeing John Gay [of woodchipping giant Gunns] become a multi-millionaire.

Premier Jim Bacon responded to the mounting opposition in his September 23 "State of the state" address to parliament by promising to "look into" phasing out clearfelling in old-growth forests by 2010.

Cremasco is sceptical. "Bacon has also promised to 'look into' phasing out the use of 1080 poison. He has no time-frame or a solid commitment on that either. They need to stop using 1080 to kill native animals and they need to do it now!"

From Green Left Weekly, October 22, 2003.
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