No Treaty, No Consent, No Jurisdiction

Aboriginal Leaders Defend the Forest

In a first for forest protests in East Gippsland, local Aboriginal leaders supported by environmentalists stopped work in a logging coupe, calling for an end to illegal logging in East Gippsland. Albert Hayes from the Bidawal tribe and Robbie Thorpe, Krauatungalung leader declared the logging of an old growth coupe in the high conservation value area of Ellery to be illegal under customary law.

"You didn't plant these forests, you have no right to be cutting them down. They were here long before white people arrived." stated Robbie Thorpe.

Eviction notices were served to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment officers present.

"This land was never ceded nor was its law extinguished. The appropriate Aboriginal leaders were never consulted in the East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement. This is a testament that genocide continues today." said Robbie Thorpe.

GECO Media Release

Interestingly, under Native Title, trees or other forest products are not listed as a resource. It is clear that forests are a heavily exploited ‘resource’. This exclusion can be cynically interpreted as an attempt to see that no compensation is given to traditional owners. No royalties are paid presently to the Aboriginal owners, and it appears that the industry will continue to get away with this theft.

Aboriginal leader calls for Moratorium for Goolengook

On 7th August 2000 in Goolengook forest, East Gippsland, Aboriginal leader Albert Hayes of the Bidwali people has called for a Moratorium on any logging activity pending proper consultation with the rightful owners of the land. Mr Hayes and 25 supporters are currently visiting the Goolengook area and have today issued notice to the State Government prohibiting logging in the area. The Goolengook area, near Orbost is part of the Bidwali territory, and Albert Hayes has direct biological link to the Bidwali people.

"There has been no consultation with the Bidwali people as part of the Regional Forest Agreement process. While Native Title claims are unresolved and no consent has been given from the Bidwali people the State Government cannot let logging go ahead in these Ancient forests, " Mr Hayes stated.

"The government must recognise the Bidwali's ancient sovereign right to land through biological link to the original inhabitants."

"This land has been stolen and the children stolen from the land that sustains us", said Mr Hayes

"There has been a lot of talk about reconciliation in this country, but to achieve true conciliation there must be recognition of the traditional sovereign ownership of the land. Without a treaty and without the proper consultation over land management there is no conciliation," concluded Mr Hayes.

The following is the Notice that was issued to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment and associated Government and Industry representatives.


To Who It May Concern

This Notice is to warn you that the Goolengook area in Far East Gippsland has never been ceded via treaty or by any other means and as such, remains the Ancient Sovereign Territory of the Bidwali People, bloodline back to country.

All activity such as logging and associated activities, are hereby prohibited pending the result of full and proper consultation with the sovereign traditional owners and the result of full and uninhibited discussion amongst those people who have a proven biological link to The Ancient Sovereign Bidwali Nation.

Furthermore, all logging and associated activities are hereby prohibited within the grounds of the described area on the basis that:
* There has been no consultation with the Bidwali people as part of the Regional Forest Agreement.
* There is no existing TREATY between the Bidwali people and the State now known as Victoria.
* No Bidwali people have given expressed consent to logging or associated activities in the Goolengook area.
* As there is no TREATY and there is no consent, the Goolengook area falls outside the jurisdiction of the State of Victoria and its agents the DNRE.

In the light of this an urgent moratorium must be placed on logging activity in the Goolengook area pending the results of proper negotiation with the sovereign Bidwali Nation.


By Order Of Albert Hayes of the Bidwali people (bloodline back to territory)

Sent to the Orbost office DNRE
Cc, Inspector Rod Wright (Bairnsdale Police), Gary Squires East Gippsland Logging, Sheryl Garbutt (Minister for Conservation), Steve Bracks (Premier of Victoria), all relevant media outlets