Free Hector the Protector

Issue 

BY ALEX BAINBRIDGE

HOBART — Forest activist Neil Smith, known as "Hector the Protector", was jailed after turning himself in to Tasmanian police on November 13. He refused to pay a $5000 fine for sitting in a tree during a 1998 forest protest.

Dozens of supporters accompanied Smith, labelling him a hero who "deserves a medal, not jail". They demanded that Premier Jim Bacon and forestry minister Paul Lennon be jailed as forest vandals instead of Smith.

The excessive forest logging that Smith objected to in 1998 continues today, but public opposition has increased significantly.

The law that Smith was accused of breaking no longer exists. It was labelled "draconian and intimidatory" by Labor in opposition and has been repealed. The ALP could have prevented Smith going to jail but didn't.

Meanwhile, a new tree-sit has been organised in the Styx Valley. Smith declared that he would visit the tree-sit immediately he is released from jail.

Socialist Alliance and Greens members were among supporters outside the police station. The Wilderness Society has launched an appeal to collect $5000 so Smith does not have to serve his entire sentence.

From Green Left Weekly, November 19, 2003.
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