Two people arrested at an occupation of the new DSE office building in Bairnsdale escaped penalty when they appeared in court. The two faced charges of trespass, beset premises and unlawfully on premises, with one of the defendents having two counts of resist arrest. However, the police prosecutors offered the pair a chance at "diversion", based on their clean records and good characters. They later formally thanked the police for this opportunity, as it means that they will not have a criminal record.
Conservationists are claiming that VicForest logging practices are not sustainable and that old growth forests are still being logged despite public opposition. Local conservationists have joined a group travelling from Sydney to Melbourne to draw attention to the continued logging of old growth forest in East Gippsland. Last week, in conjunction with local forest activists, the group conducted a 9 hour blockade of the Eden woodchip mill.
"We are a diverse group of people who cannot believe that forests of high conservation value are still being logged in this day and age. It's not the 1920's anymore. With only small pockets of old growth forest left intact in East Gippsland it is urgent that the Bracks Government steps in now. Once logged they are gone forever", said spokesperson for the group, Billy Dain
Timber allocation contracts are due to be re-signed this year by VicForest. Conservationists claim that the industry is not held accountable for the destruction of our water catchments and old growth forests and are given free reign to clear and destroy without forest surveying or public consultation. The DSE must also move to rectify these problems.
"The Environment Protection Agency's (EPA's) audit results released in 2004, stated that East Gippsland had the worst forest practices in Victoria, yet the department is not held accountable. Steve Bracks needs to finally listen to the public and move logging out of old growth forests into the well established plantations in Victoria", he concluded.
We're a diverse group from Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, East Gippsland, and all over. We support the belief that the original inhabitants of this island are overdue the recognition their connection to the land and their original nationhoods deserve. We oppose the storage of thousands of tonnes of cyanide in unsealed dams and the desecration of the Wiradjuri Nation's dreaming place to extract gold next to the massive ephemeral wetlands at Lake Cowal. We support the ongoing work of environmental activists at the Goongerah Environment Centre Office (GECO) in East Gippsland. Without their continuing research, investigation and blockading even greater devastation would face the mainland's largest old growth wilderness. These causes are just and long fought but without public awareness they're out of sight, out of mind.
Like everyone involved in either campaign, we want to change that. By travelling to these places to see the beauty and destruction for themselves, listening to the land and the people who live with it, and rocking out together, as improbable as a sound system next to a tailings dam is, people gain an awareness that pages of text can't compete with.