Two forest activists protesting against the clearfelling of native forest in north-western Tasmania have become the first people charged under the state's controversial anti-protest laws. John Henshaw and Jessica Hoyt were part of a group of nine protesters who walked on to a Forestry Tasmania coup at Lapoinya, 37 kilometers from Burnie on January 18. About 70 other protesters have gathered at the entrance to the coup for the past week to oppose the logging.
Tasmanian Greens leader Kim Booth quits parliament Kim Booth has announced he is stepping down as Tasmanian Greens leader and resigning from State Parliament, effective immediately. His seat will be filled on countback by another Greens candidate. He cited family reasons and the need for renewal in the Greens as the reasons for his shock resignation.
The environment movement in Tasmania has split over support for a forest “peace” agreement the Tasmanian Greens and environment groups made with the logging industry. The environment groups have been in negotiations with the industry for almost three years. As the industry declined, environmentalists saw a chance for reform to win an end to the forest wars permanently. The agreement was passed in state parliament on April 30, supported by the Greens and Labor, and opposed the Liberal party. However, many people in the environment movement disagreed with the bill.
The Tasmanian Labor-Greens coalition government has forged ahead with savage cuts to the state’s health services, causing anger, frustration and despair in the community. More than 7600 people have been languishing on the elective surgery waiting list. Yet the government said on October 4 that it would cut elective surgery by $58 million over the next three years. This will cause 130 health jobs to be lost and wards to be closed in all the state’s big hospitals. It is possible that only emergency cases will be dealt with in future.
After weeks of political wrangling and uncertainty since the March 20 state elections, a new government has been formed in Tasmania. For the first time in Australia’s history, the Greens will have ministry positions. The Labor Party and the Greens agreed to a “power sharing deal”, which offered a ministry for Greens leader Nick McKim and a cabinet secretary position for Greens MP Cassy O’Connor.