Protesters Plead No Jurisdiction

"East Gippsland's old growth forests are being culled senselessly beyond any reasonable estimates of sustainability. It is high time we respect these ancient places. We cannot rely on the Victorian government to protect unique forests such as Goolengook."

That much is old news to us. But recently, locked on activists arrested at the Little Goolengook River have told the government exactly how we feel. In the magistrate's court in Orbost, Josie and Jeannie told the court that "the local Aboriginal owners, the Gunnai people, never ceded sovreignty over their land, and therefore Australia's government is still illegally occupying this land." They claimed that Victorian and Federal law had "No Jurisdiction" over what they were doing, since they were bound by treaty to "ensure that no continuing and ongoing damage will be done to the territory specified in this lease."

What treaty? Both the activists had signed treaties with local Gunnai elders whose bloodlines tie them directly to these parts of East Gippsland, and it was on the basis of those treaties that they were acting when they locked on to a cunning geek designed dozer trap. According to the interpretation of the treaty they presented to the Orbost magistrate, "I had to protect this land from continuing and ongoing damage that I believe is being done by logging, clearfelling the old growth in Goolengook."

At the same case, local Gunnai elder Robbie Thorpe testified. He not only fully endorsed these blockade activities, but delivered a blazing oratory against the white man's theft and destruction of sacred lands all over Australia. "We're still suffering from a state of undeclared war from the British crown, from which this court derives its jurisdiction. Which I believe is totally invalid. And something needs to be done about it. Because Aboriginal people are victims of genocide," Thorpe told the court.

A recent Federal Court ruling stated that Genocide is not a crime under Australian law - the case brought before the court in regard to the ongoing genocide of the Aboriginal people will now have to be taken to an international stage. To give support donations can be made to - STOP the GENOCIDE Fighting Fund (Commonwealth Bank Statement Account # 063648 10050445

Thorpe's explanation of the legal argument of "No Jurisdiction" was that Captain Cook acted illegally when he occupied Australia, "and therefore jeopardized the whole jurisdiction of law in this land ever since."

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra had drafted the treaty the activists had signed, which is designed to provide individual Australian citizens with the opportunity to rectify their de facto participation in their government's crimes.


Goolengook Charges Dropped

The prosecution have dropped 119 charges in relation to arrests at Goolengook.

This should include all outstanding charges. This supports what we knew all along that the logging in Goolengook was the wrongful activity going on not the actions of the protesters who were trying to protect it. On the day the charges were officially dropped in the Orbost court a number of protesters were there to bear witness as our actions were officially vindicated.

The prosecution have been stalling with the charges ever since Bob Brown proved in court that the logging in Goolengook was illegal. This illegality was due to the Government ignoring the requiremnets for buffers in the Heritage Rivers Act when drawing up it’s forest operations guidelines. As a result of this many of the state’s river systems have had inadequate buffer zones left after logging to protect their heritage values. While the Government may have been a little embarrased by this stuff up it didn’t bother them too much as they promptly changed the legislation and kept going with business as usual. By changing the legislation in this manner the Government had ackowledged that there was a legal problem.

It would have been difficult for the Kennett government under these circumstances to successfully prosecute on any of the outstanding charges for Goolengook. Obviously they were not prepared to take the risk of having to fight out all of the cases with such bad odds against them winning, maybe a little too embarrassing around election time. Or maybe a little too costly!

For those who have already been to court and found guilty it is unlikely that the original decision can be overturned as the time has probably passed for appeal lodgement.