News briefs

Issue 

Forest legislation stumped

The Senate voted to uphold amendments to the Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) Bill on November 24, setting a double dissolution trigger if the bill is again altered by the Senate next March. The Senate insisted that RFAs signed since March 1998 (including the Tasmanian, East Gippsland and Central Highlands agreements) be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny.

According to Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown, the government has foreshadowed new regulations to cover the crisis by extending export woodchip licensing from the current cut-off date of December 31 to March 31, 2000. It is expected the bill will be debated again in the Senate next year.

Brown pointed out: "The government is prepared to drop its unpopular RFAs, which gift Australia's unprotected forests to the woodchip companies for 20 years, rather than have them scrutinised by parliament".

Anti-nuclear festival

Anti-nuclear activists and supporters will gather at Balluk Beek, near Healesville in Victoria, December 17-20. The festival will feature workshops on many different issues, music and dance, tree-planting and a tour of the land.

"It seems the government thinks it will have this beautiful country submit to nuclear madness, but the future is in the people's hands", festival organiser Yael told Green Left Weekly. "Balluk Beek is a festival about us joining together."

Bring a tent, camping gear, musical instrument, food (although there will be some food there), workshop ideas and your visions. The campsite is off Albert Road, near Healesville sanctuary.