Tarkine Tigers arrested
By Ben Courtice
HOBART — On May 16 police arrested seven more activists involved in a vigil on Parliament House lawns to protest against the road being built through the Tarkine wilderness. The vigil had been re-established 24 hours before, after the first one ended on May 5 with the arrest of four protesters.
The road, supposedly for tourists will be open only to four wheel drives and will be subject to frequent flooding. It will cut Australia's largest rainforest area in two, opening the area to introduced pests and woodchipping companies. The initial stage of the road was to cost $3 million but is already $2 million over budget. Meanwhile, state government funding to education, health, housing and other community services has been slashed.
Tasmanian Greens leader Christine Milne has spoken out against the legislation used against vigil participants. Introduced by the Liberal government in 1993 ostensibly to deal with protesters in the forests, the law has now been used to ban protesters first from the gallery of Parliament House, then the car park and finally the lawns.
The recent Tarkine protest activities in Hobart are attracting support from a broadening layer of the community. A "people's parliament" rally held on the parliament lawns on May 13 drew a crowd of more than 250 people, including speakers from the Tarkine Tigers, Resistance, the Greens, the Vietnam Veterans and the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group (TGLRG).
Rodney Croome from the TGLRG likened the Tarkine campaign to the TGLRG's 1988 campaign for permission to have a stall at the Salamanca markets. Activists in this campaign turned up and were arrested at the markets week after week until the stall was finally allowed.
The Tarkine road development will also be a central issue of a rally for World Environment Day (WED) on June 3.