Image for Jenny v George. Kim Booth questions Bryan Green

• George Harris:


Jobs of 170 timber workers who attended a public meeting at the Huonville Town hall were ignored as the Wilderness Society attempted to justify their walk out on industry peace talks.

Concerns of timber workers, their families and the community were played down by activists who tried to silence genuine questions about the facts on the forest peace deal.

“The Environmentalists refused to agree to stop invading work places and jeopardising worker safety in exchange for being allowed to present their slide show in silence.” woodworker George Harris of the Huon Resource Development Group said

The speakers were unable to answer questions related to workers’ mortgages and the financial future of their families, or sustainable forest management, which frustrated many in the hall.

Workers challenged The Wilderness Society to agree to accept the umpires decision, or would they continue to raise conflict within the local community, yet they repeatedly refused to answer.

The activists were asked to consider the welfare of timber families placed at risk by their illegal protests.

Timber industry supporters were disappointed that the 20 activists from local enviromental groups attempted to inflame what could have been a productive meeting. The activitists continually goaded angry workers who wanted to correct the many false claims made by the speakers.

The tone of the meeting clearly demonstrated that radical environment groups did not speak for the community and that many of their claims did not ring true.

The silent majority has taken the first step to being heard, and have challenged the wilderness society to participate in another public meeting.

• Jenny Weber, Huon Valley Environment Centre:

Violence and Abuse by Forestry Tasmania Employees at Huonville Town Meeting

A public meeting about forests in Huonville town hall was held last night when 120 people organised by Forestry Tasmania and Ta Ann stacked the meeting.

“The behaviour of the people at the meeting was unruly, abusive, and their language was disgusting.  Speakers faced a torrent of abuse, threats of assault and members of the crowd displayed homophobic, racist and sexist attitudes. This was the ugly side of the tasmanian forest industry, where organised bullying and thuggery is deemed acceptable,” Huon Valley Environment Centre’s Jenny Weber said.

“We absolutely respect the right to protest, though Huon Valley Environment Centre condemns this orchestrated act of thuggery. These people have closed minds to the issues that deforestation contributes to climate change and the native forest industry across Australia is on the verge of collapse.  What was sad to witness was the anger and frustration of these people who target it at conservationists, when it is the State and Federal Governments who are selling out these people and the forests,”  Jenny Weber said.

Footage of the meeting avaliable (and hopefully will soon be on TT so you can make up your own minds).

• ABC Online: Activists slam forest worker ‘thuggery’:

Updated 2 hours 1 minute ago

Conservationists say they were abused and threatened with violence by timber workers at a meeting in southern Tasmania last night.

The Huon Valley Environment Centre has accused Forestry Tasmania and Ta Ann of organising 120 people to stack the community meeting in Huonville.

Spokeswoman Jenny Webber says the men arrived on mass and in their work clothes, with several senior figures from both organisations present.

She says it was organised thuggery.

“There was very rowdy behaviour, there was a complete lack of respect for the people who were trying to run the meeting and there was constant yells of abusive language and name calling that I haven’t even heard in a drunken fight at a pub,” she said,

“It was crass and disgusting.”

Forestry Tasmania has admitted some timber workers got out of hand at the meeting.

Spokesman Peter Pepper told ABC Local Radio the meeting got rowdy.

“I think there were probably two people that I was disappointed in and I spoke to them before the meeting and asked them not to attend if they couldn’t control themselves.”

Timber groups deny any conservationists were threatened with physical violence.

Barry Chipman, from Timber Communities Australia, was at the meeting and says workers challenged the speakers claims but did not make any threats.

“It became quite offensive to timber families to have a constant barrage of untruthful and misleading and totally incorrect statements being forced upon the audience by people on the stage that actually had been arrested for invading their worksites,” he said.

Allan Duggan, from the Huon Valley Resources Development Group, says timber workers want to go to work without facing protest action from green groups.

“We will then be quiet and listen to what you’re going to say if you will give an undertaking that you will not go into our worksites and disrupt our work sites,” he said.

“Goodness me, this is the whole prinicple of your right to work, this is what they’re objecting to.

“They wouldn’t give that committment so the row, it nearly got quite out or order altogether.”

• Kim Booth:

The latest response from Minister Green to questions by Kim Booth about Forestry Tasmania potentially entering into new contracts for logging or roading of areas that have been agreed to be reserved under the Forest Principles.

Mr Booth has been seeking this information since March 15th (Download letter below) but Minister Green refuses to provide any details.  This reluctance by the Minister to be up front with the Tasmanian public raises a very real concern that Forestry Tasmania has something to hide.

Download also the transcript from Hansard (uncorrected proof).




• First published: 2011-05-20 10:15 AM





• Forestry’s business-as-usual, Friday, May 20:

Angela took these pics on a journey through the Fingal valley. She was most upset at yet another full on assault on people’s health. Smoke haze extended from Campbell Town through to the East Coast in what is obviously another triumph for the forest rapers and polluters. What faith in the goodness of man to protect his fellow man, or shelter his women and children when greed and ignorance are such revered traits in Tasmania.

• Judy Tierney, Our Common Ground

Round-table solidarity and Government leadership needed to save forest agreement.

To move Tasmania’s forest talks from the brink of collapse, Our Common Ground encourages all participants to stick together at this critical time and urges concrete engagement from both state and federal governments.

Our Common Ground spokesperson, Judy Tierney said “Seven months after the historic signing of the Forests Statement of Principles, the lack of government engagement and the glacial pace of progress is now jeapordising the whole process. More than ever, round table solidarity is paramount in effecting fundamental and sustainable change and more can be achieved inside the tent than out of it.”

“We therefore urge the Wilderness Society to reconsider their suspension and re-enter the talks—regardless of any government promises of industry compensation.”

The frustration among the signatories reflects growing agitation among timber workers, conservationists, industry and among the community. Just in the last few days, this has led to the Wilderness Society suspending its involvement in the talks, timber workers and environmentalists protesting outside federal Members of Parliament, and rowdy scenes between timber workers and environmentalists in a Huonville public meeting.

“But time is running out with timber workers losing jobs, businesses facing bankruptcy and important native forests still being logged.”

“We also urge the federal and state governments to take the situation seriously and demonstrate progress on the ground. While we don’t think that ambit claims of $1 billion in compensation help the debate, we would like to see the Federal Government commit to buying out logging licenses at fair rates.”

“For the sake of Tasmania’s economy, forests and jobs, these talks must succeed. Only then can we move forward from the old practices which have long divided this state.