This page last updated 24thJune 2001
The clearfelling of the Dingo Creek catchment, on the boundary of the Errinundra National Park in East Gippsland, was unlawful. This is because DNRE instructed the loggers to clear Mixed Forest, rainforest and threatened species habitat.
DNRE staff were under the impression that any forest zoned as available for logging could be clearfelled, and that the Forest Code of Practice was not legally binding, so there were no limits to the damage they could cause.
Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987, sections 4, reads:
The object of this Act is to set up a legislative framework to enable the Minister -
(a) to be an effective conserver of the State's lands, waters, flora and fauna; and
(b) to make provision for the productive, educational and recreational use of the State's lands, waters, flora and fauna in ways which are environmentally sound, socially just and economically efficient.
Clearfelling with no buffers on rainforest is not "environmentally sound". The clearing of Mixed Forest, old-growth forest and threatened species habitat is also not "environmentally sound".
Close inspection of the above legislation reveals that many other examples of logging in Victoria breach that Act.
Is the Minister an "effective conserver of the State's lands, waters, flora and fauna"? When clearfelling of forest in Melbourne's and Geelong's water catchments is measurably affecting the water supply, and known habitat of threatened species such as the Powerful Owl is being clearfelled? I suggest not.
Examples of clearfelling where rainforest gullies have been bulldozed and burnt are many. Examples of poison baiting in Quoll habitat are many. Examples of habitat trees being needlessly felled, wasted and left to burn are many. Are these acts "environmentally sound"?.
When the helicopters drop napalm on the clearfelled forest, burning with such intensity that a mushroom cloud can be seen rising to the upper atmosphere, is this "Environmentally sound"? Considering the Greenhouse effect, I'd say not. How can sending CO2 direct to the upper atmosphere be better than leaving an old-growth forest, a known carbon sink? Burning of forest in this way is also breaching guidelines set down at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, and of International Greenhouse obligations to whch the Australian Government has signed.
When clearfelling of ancient, undisturbed old-growth is destroying the biodiversity of the forest, depriving future generations the chance to see the living museum for such pitiful short term cash reward, is that "socially just"?
In 1997 in Goolengook, over 160 people wre arrested for trying to stop the clearfelling f a National Biological Site of Signifance. They were later proved to be rightfully upholding the law, as the loggin WAS unlawful. Was that "socially just"?
Similarly at the recent Dingo Creek blockade, DNRE chased and dragged people from the forest, stole their food, water, bedding and tents, left them stranded on the remote mountain-top with no way of getting out, in sub-zero temperatures. DNRE added to the crime by installing and locking a gate across the only access road, preventing rescue! Was that also "socially just"?
When the clearfelling of the forests has been proved to be unsustainable, that the Government is subsidising the native timber industry, is that "economically efficient"?
Dingo Creek is clearly just one example of unlawful logging, which occurs all across Victoria. DNRE's response is to try and drag protesters from the scene, to persecute and harass, to try and intimidate us into silence. But now that you have read this, THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!
Consider the words of Gerard O'Neill, Executive Director, Forest Services, DNRE, issued in a letter regarding the logging of Dingo Creek;
"The SMZ Plan ensures the protection of all the biodiversity values within the area, including the rainforest stands". This is an example of the blatant lies given to the public by the DNRE. Even their own Management plan admits that Gliders are "unlikely to persist at the site" after clearfelling. Inspection of clearfells nearby reveals most of the understorey species have not grown back, most of the fauna has not returned, but rabbits and foxes have invaded in huge numbers. Clearfelling kills biodiversity.
The only way O'Neill's statement could be true is if the SMZ Plan retained ALL of the rainforest understorey and ALL of the senescing trees. The only way they could do that, is to NOT LOG DINGO CREEK.
Now, who out there will take on the challenge; make O'Neill accountable for his statements and charge HIM under the Conservation forest and Lands Act for UNLAWFUL LOGGING. He is responsible for the crimes committed by his department. He is responsible for all the propaganda issued by the DNRE, such as:
"rainforest is 100% protected" - when Goolengook's National Biological Site of Significance for Rainforest values was being clearfelled,
claiming "extensive public consultation" during the RFA, when ALL conservation groups opposed it and the DNRE office was locked down when letters of opposition were brought to present to the Minster. or how about "the Government is committed to the sustainable management of Victoria's forest" when it has been proven that the forests have been overcut for at least every year of the last 3 years!
His lies constitute "Deception with the intent to gain financial advantage"; also UNLAWFUL. He knowingly misleads the public with his propaganda, issued directly by him and through all of the Government's Press Releases and documents. The deception is there. The profit made by the woodchippers may be less than the value of the forests, but the intent to gain financial advantage is there.
DNRE use the power of citizen's arrest to try and remove the witnesses from their forest crimes. True justice would see Gerard O'Neill arrested by conservationists, dragged from his office and hauled down to the Police station. How about it?
What I am doing is firstly proving that the logging at Dingo Creek WAS unlawful, in defending myself against the charge of "obstruction of a lawful forest operation". My defense is partially based on the above, plus details other regulations breached in the coupe and other unlawfulness of DNRE's actions.
A "contest of mention" is the next stage of that process. On August 1, at the Orbost Magistrate's Court, a Judge will spend no longer than 1 hour to either make a snap decision about the case, or defer it to a full hearing, at a later date. Possibly DNRE will shy away from the bad publicity of being exposed as UNLAWFUL, perhaps realising that losing the case exposes them to being SUED for FALSE ARREST, THEFT, DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY, ASSUALT, and of course, UNLAFUL LOGGING, and drop the case.
Tony "Quoll" Hastings, [email protected]o.com
GECO - go to the Goongerah Environment Centre homepage