By Karen Fletcher
SYDNEY — Nearly 10,000 anti-woodchipping protesters encircled the NSW Parliament House on February 19 in a spirited show of strength.
Many participants had made their own placards and banners, expressing anger at both the state Liberal and federal Labor governments. Leaflets distributed by alternate parties fielding candidates in the election, such as the Greens, Democrats and Democratic Socialists, were snapped up eagerly.
The rally and march were organised in less than three weeks by the Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the NSW Nature Conservation Council, the Total Environment Centre, the National Parks Association and the North East and South East Forest Alliances. The big attendance and spirit indicated the willingness of thousands to become involved in the fight to save old growth native forests.
The demands of the rally were for an immediate end to logging activity in all old growth and wilderness forests, a swift end to export woodchipping, the rapid implementation of a wood products industry restructuring program and the establishment of a comprehensive forest reserve system to protect biodiversity and other important forest values such as water catchment.
The organisers urged protesters to consider the issue when casting their vote at the upcoming election, to fax letters of protest to politicians, to use letters to the editor and talkback radio to express their views and to donate to, or join, the groups who sponsored the rally. No future rallies or demonstrations were projected.