Rally for the forests

April 8, 1998

By Kamala Emanuel

LAUNCESTON — Seven hundred protestors braved the rain on March 28 to demonstrate their opposition to logging of old growth forest in Kooparoona Niara/Great Western Tiers. The rally followed a picnic of 1000 people at the blockade site the previous weekend.

Australian Greens senator Bob Brown condemned the sell-out of indigenous people's rights involved in logging and called for a royal commission into Tasmanian Forestry Commission malpractice.

Activist "Hector the Protector", known for his long tree-sit, accompanied by computer, fax and mobile phone, pointed out the "dollar-determined" nature of the Regional Forest Agreement. which had "ignored people, science and feelings". According to Hector, much of the research commissioned by the government was damning of forestry practices.

Tasmanian Greens MP Christine Milne said the recent period of "public consultation" had drawn people off the streets and into paperwork. Now that the RFA process has failed, she said, people are again coming into the streets to say "Enough!".

Local saw-miller Kim Booth decried the 100 kilometre assault on old growth forest not reserved in the Western Tiers under the RFA. Places previously trashed by industry were protected under the RFA, while places like Mother Cummings coupe HU307, never previously logged, were denied protection.

Local industry is being sacrificed by the Forestry Commission to allow multinational companies like North Ltd destroy forest resources and make huge profits. Half a million dollars has been spent maintaining 30-70 police at the anti-logging blockade where the protestors, mostly locals, are being threatened with arrest and harsh bail conditions, including not being allowed to take their children to school.

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