By Kathy Newnam
Brisbane — Some 200 people attended a speak-out against woodchipping on February 3 in the Queen St Mall. The action, called by Resistance, demanded that the government protect all old growth forests by forcing industry to move to plantation timber and develop alternative paper fibre sources, such as hemp.
The rally was sponsored by the Wilderness Society, 4ZZZ, HEMP, Griffith University Sustainable Club, Australian Indigenous Peoples Party, the Democratic Socialist Party and Brisbane Rainforest Action Group.
A spokesperson for the Wilderness Society talked of the need to mobilise public support for the anti-woodchipping campaign and advised the rally to "call Paul", and write letters to members of parliament.
Zanny Begg, who chaired the rally, called for building a mass campaign. "Resistance called this rally", she told Green Left Weekly, "because we know that if we are going to win the fight against the licences, we are going to have to build a public and active campaign that gets people doing more then just writing letters. The timber companies are mobilising; we have to mobilise too."
Begg argued that the movement has to do more than just lobby the Labor Party. "Before the licences were granted, Faulkner sat down with the environmental movement and said, 'We are listening to you', 'We hear your concerns'. But the Labor party went ahead and granted the licences anyway. When it comes to the crunch, the Labor Party puts the interests of profit over those of people and the environment."
Sam Watson told the rally that the Australian Indigenous People's Party is against treating nature as a commodity. He said we can't have a sustainable timber industry while it is controlled by big corporations. He argued for the protection of jobs and the environment.
Andrew Watson who spoke for the Democratic Socialist Party, arguing the need to involve working people in the campaign and for the environmental movement to address real fears about job losses by demanding that the timber companies compensate any workers who lose their jobs through an end to export woodchipping.
Other speakers included Tony Kniepp from HEMP and Sonny Melencio, representative from SANLAKAS in the Philippines. Entertainment was provided by Brisbane musician Phil Monseur, a regular Green It Up performer.