Forest activists beat ban on 'walk-in'

Issue 

At 8am on February 16, police served writs citing a court injunction from Forestry Tasmania on three Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) office-bearers, according to the February 17 Hobart Mercury. The court order was to stop a "walk-in" planned for the following day in the Weld Valley exclusion zone to highlight the ongoing logging of old-growth forests.

The injunction, which was later thrown out of court, included demands that would have banned protesters from staying overnight at the homes of the HVEC office-bearers or spending the night at the environment centre itself. It also would have deemed illegal the mobile phone texting, emailing, leafleting or even internet postings of any material promoting the walk-in.

The key evidence on which the injunction was based was ruled inadmissible by Chief Justice Peter Underwood. This was because Forestry Tasmania had collected much of the evidence from websites reporting on recent protests in the Weld Valley, but it was difficult to establish that the photos displayed on the websites actually came from the protests that they were purported to have shown.

Underwood also ruled that a sworn statement by Forestry Tasmania's Steve Davis claiming that protesters would lock themselves to machinery, conduct tree-sits and "otherwise interfere with forestry operations" were beliefs, not facts. Underwood ordered Forestry Tasmania to pay all legal costs, currently estimated at $7000-$10,000.

According to HVEC spokesperson Adam Burling, Forestry Tasmania's latest legal action was an attempt to demonstrate a new hard-line approach towards protesters.

Around 50 people attended the protest action, of which 25 were arrested for "trespassing". The protest was filmed by the police.