Brisbane rally against woodchipping
By Nicole Kamp
BRISBANE — More than 400 people braved 30 degree temperatures on March 25 to rally in King George Square against woodchipping. The rally was organised by Resistance, HEMP, Brisbane Rainforest Action Group, Aboriginal Legal Service, University of Queensland Student Union, Griffith University Student Representative Council, University of Queensland Environment Collective, Griffith University Environment Collective, the Democratic Socialist Party, ISO, 4ZzZ, and VETO Eastern Tollways.
The rally was also supported by Green Left Weekly, and a message of support was sent by Claire Moore, secretary of the Public Service Union.
During the rally 40 metres of petitions against woodchipping were unfurled across King George Square. Zanny Begg, chair of the rally and a member of Resistance, described it as our "Ribbon of Protest". She said the petitions were symbolic of the massive anger people felt about the senseless destruction of our old growth forests. The rally had been called by people who were not prepared to sit on their hands while the government destroys our environment.
Tony Kneipp, on behalf of HEMP, spoke about the alternative to the woodchipping of old growth forests which hemp provides. For centuries paper was made from hemp instead of timber. The criminalisation of hemp has denied society this useful paper fibre source, which produces four times as much fibre per acre as timber. Kneipp also criticised the peak environment groups for not endorsing or helping to build the rally.
Kathy Newman, from Resistance, spoke on the unsustainability of the woodchipping of old growth forests. "Woodchipping doesn't make sense from an environmental, social or economic point of view", she explained. Woodchipping not only destroys our environment but also sheds jobs and costs the taxpayers money through subsidies. Newman told the rally, "When we unite in struggle, we can win".
Sam Watson spoke from the Aboriginal Legal Service and explained that in Aboriginal culture it is a "serious crime to steal something from the land". To a cheering crowd, he described the woodchipping licences as stealing and said that politicians must be made accountable to people's demands for protection of our old growth forests.
Other speakers were from BRAG, the East Gippsland blockade, the Aboriginal community and the Democratic Socialist Party.
The Wilderness Society did not endorse the rally but sent a message of support to Resistance the night before the rally, which congratulated them on their "hard work and successful publicity".
The rally marched to Forestry House and then to the Executive Building chanting, "Wilderness not woodchips: save our forests now". Many speakers stressed the need to organise further actions against woodchipping.