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December 2006 - Logger political terrorism in Australia under the Howard Govt

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[Preface: This paper was originally posted to Sydney Indymedia website and copied to NSW and Federal MP's, and civil society groups. The links to those stories should still be live :]

Howard federal/state ALP govts green light for logger terrorism?: Fire bombing at 3am on Huon Valley camp last Saturday (broken link)

By Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW

This -paper begins with violence by loggers at Wandella public forest near Cobargo on the NSW South Coast in 2005:

When big logging industry and or union tactics annexing the ALP and civil society groups don't work as exposed here:

 

"The A Team Four Corners reveals a secret campaign to spy on green groups, hi-jack forestry policy and damage corporate rivals."

 

then it becomes apparent that some loggers are more than willing to simply employ criminal violence as happened in 2005 in Wandella State Forest.

 

This writer took a photo of an injured conservationist in 2005 (above) last year, and was next morning menaced by two thugs from a local logging crew no doubt under supervision, literally from the drivers seat of the ute nearby, as they tried to surround me front and back. One of them said if I came back into their forest 'I wouldn't be leaving' or something like that. I only realise now what they might have meant to threaten. Creeps.

 

Now we have the final result of a court case involving these grubs, encouraged by the now sacked federal environment minister Ian Macdonald, who infamously issued a press release encouraging logging supporters to attend a bbq to get involved in 'grilling a greenie'. Was he being euphemistic there about beating up greenies as was happening? Certainly that kind of sloppy language didn't sit well with Howard regime's dogma on preventing political violence aka terrorism.

 

Here is Harriet Swift's of Chipstop with the relevant email report. Note too I understand the defendants hired (heavy industry backing?) expensive defence lawyers and its taken over a year to process the case.

 

----- Original Message -----

From: To: Chipstop network

Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 1:53 PM

Subject: Wandella assault verdicts

 

Judgements in the 2 Wandella assault cases from 23 July last year
were handed down in Bega Court today. Gil Mathie (Director of Bruce Mathie and Sons) and Stuart Byne (contracted tree faller for Mathies) were each charged with assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault. Mathie was acquitted of both charges. Byne was convicted of two counts of common assault. The sentence will be on 10 October.
HS

CHIPSTOP campaign against
woodchipping the south east and east gippsland forests PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550
Australia 02 64923134 0414908997   http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au

......................................................................

 

Other postings on the original violence at Wandella and subsequent expose of logger industry dishonesty were posted at the time here

 

Loggers in court for alleged criminal violence Bega Tues. 14th March [2006] (broken link) and here  

 

South Coast logger convicted of criminal assault of conservationist, is this evidence of terrorism? (broken link), and here

 

Chief of national logger lobby, ex Howard staffer, tells defamatory lies all over regional ABC radio, real bias under duress? (broken link,  story late 2006)

 

Catherine Murphy CEO of National Association of Forest Industries, and former policy adviser to PM Howard, is pictured here. The story above with link broken referred to an outrageously defamatory, hypocritical and dishonest claim of forest conservationists indulging in criminal violence when the truth was entirely in the reverse as evidenced by this paper.

.............................

Here is an industry profile of Murphy indicating how she is a Howard government political fixer from http://www.vicforests.com.au/symposium/speakers.html

 

CATHERINE MURPHY , CEO, NAFI [pictured above]

 

Before commencing as NAFI’s CEO in early 2005, Catherine Murphy was a senior federal government adviser for several years.

 

From 1996 until 2002 Catherine was the Senior Adviser (Legal) to the Prime Minister, covering a wide range of portfolio responsibilities including legal and constitutional issues, native title, telecommunications and media broadcasting, the arts, indigenous affairs, and science and innovation.

 

From 2002, Catherine was Chief of Staff to the then Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson, where she covered major reforms to the higher education sector, the national schooling system, and the vocational education and training system.

 

Catherine has previously held senior positions in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance.

 

At NAFI, Catherine has focused on a number of policy areas including advocacy of forest certification, oversight of a national forest industry skills audit, promotion of Indigenous involvement in the forest industries, lobbying of state and federal governments to review national building energy efficiency rating systems which discriminate against the use of timber and the development of the new marketing and R&D body - Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA).

...........................................

 

There was a disturbing echo in December 2006 in Tasmania’s Weld Valley regarding the violent attacks on the peaceful camp at Wandella Forest in NSW. Pro Howard Govt loggers in the world heritage quality Weld Valley, an area described here

 

http://www.huon.org/weldvalley/

 

and here

 

http://www.huon.org/weldvalley/photosvideos/weldaction.html

 

In the previous NSW situation of terrorist violence the Federal Forests minister was caught out flirting with such terrorism by issuing a press conference satirising the notion of ‘bbq a greenie’ in the well known context of menacing assaults at the camp before and after that press release.

 

The Minister's press release follows here:

.........................................

 

Barbeque an opportunity to grill protestors

DAFF05/149M

4 August 2005

Australian Forestry and Conservation Minister Senator Ian Macdonald has urged communities across the south coast and Monaro to attend a barbeque in Cobargo this Saturday to show their support for the timber industry.

Senator Macdonald said the gathering, being organised by Timber Communities Australia, was being held to take a stand against irrational anti-forestry campaigns across the nation.

"Too often, the only rallies we see are from the bong brigade who have got time to hang around and protest against everything," Senator Macdonald said.

"This weekend provides an opportunity for ordinary Australians, who cannot afford to drop their jobs to get their message across, to come together and lend their support to a sustainable and viable industry."

Senator Macdonald said the gathering would send a message to 'anti-everything' protestors that a sustainable timber industry provided the backbone of rural communities across the nation.

"The Wandella Logging Crew down here has been under siege for seven weeks by uninformed demonstrators," Senator Macdonald said.

"These timber workers and the sustainable industry they work in, support regional towns, like Cobargo, where Timber Communities Australia has chosen to hold the event.

"This region has been scientifically assessed under the Regional Forest Agreement for its sustainable values and, yet, these protesters still aren't satisfied. It just goes to show how superficial and irrational these so-called 'green' ideals are."

Senator Macdonald commended TCA for their tireless efforts to support the timber industry, and urged those residents not directly employed in the timber industry to also attend to show their support.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald’s office: David Crisafulli 0400 144 483

.............................

 

To quote Senate Hansard and then Minister Macdonald:

 

From the Senate Hansard - 10th August, 2005

CHAMBER Wednesday, 10 August 2005 SENATE

Logging

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (1.54 pm)

I rise on a matter of very great public interest.
……
In the view of Ecology Action this minister is an embarrassment to civil society and deserves to be sacked because the public has zero tolerance for such violence, especially in the current political climate. The fact that Minister Macdonald does not understand this reality and higher expectation and standard of communication is an indictment of his competence and commonsense and personal values. Frankly, he is a disgrace. If any protestor is hurt or blood spilled after the logger inspired barbecue at Cobargo tomorrow, it will be on Ian Macdonald’s hands as an apologist for, and in denial of, political violence.

All of this was because of a media release that was issued supporting a barbecue held by the Cobargo community to support sustainable logging in the southeast. The media release was headed, “Barbecue an opportunity to grill protestors.”

 ......................................................

 

Senator Ian MacDonald was removed from his portfolio at the very next reshuffle because, we say, such dangerous rhetoric in the context of known aggression in the local area even if under cover of satire, contradicted the anti terrorism whole of govt postures domestically and internationally up until that time by the Howard government.

 

The environment movement do have a sense of humour unlike say Federal MP Gary Nairn in Eden Monaro but we don't find very funny at all political violence by loggers against our supporters who are present in diverse sectors of society.

 

This is very funny if it wasn't so serious. Gary Nairn MHR gets a bad case of no sense of humour, sends in the legal bovver boys (broken link, content extract follows)

............................

Sent: Sunday, October 15, 2006 7:15 PM
Subject: [chipstop] april fools day - legal update

Hiyas
We had another visit from the Australian Federal Police during the week. They drove all the way down from Canberra especially. The senior officer told me that the DPP has decided not to proceed with the charges over the Gary Nairn April Fools Day matter (
http://chipstop.forests.org.au/april_fools_day.htm), so I won't be going to jail, at least for the time being! They reluctantly returned my files and CDs and warned me that they had taken copies and that there is no statute of limitations on one of the charges.

He was very disappointed; he wanted me behind bars. "You bastard", I said. "You wanted me locked up." "Yes," he said. "Nothing personal, but I wanted to test the law."

He also said that the House of Representatives Privileges Committee has been advised of the situation and that both he and I might expect to hear from them.

Huh! He also passed on a personal message to me from the Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Police, who, he said, had been taking a keen interest in the case. The message was basically, "watch out, we'll get you next time." He told me that they are going to amend the Crimes Act so that if I ever did it again, they would definitely get me. I'm not convinced, but I will have to be careful.

I asked him whether that amendment would be in place by April Fools Day next year, but he did not know the answer to that.   A special clause in the Crimes Act, just for me. That is quite a feather in one's cap.  In the mean time, for all practical purposes, it's legal.

HS

CHIPSTOP campaign against woodchipping the south east and east gippsland forests PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550 Australia 02 64923...0414908...   http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au
............................

 

This writer took a photo of a weeping head wound to a local firefighter and bush worker Jamie (image above), a neutral bystander caught up in a rock attack at night time by loggers, which was published on the front page of the local Narooma News in 2005, as below and found here:

 

Wandella gallery 7/05

 

This was the attack that resulted in conviction of a logger for criminal assault eventually a year later in the local court in NSW.

 

This writer, who is also a solicitor in NSW, spoke to organiser of the Huon Environment Centre in Tasmania, Jenny Weber [in early December 06] by phone who said just as in NSW, these kind of violent menaces have been going on for ‘the last 3 years’ in the Weld Valley logging area. She says ‘there is lots of pressure from higher levels of the police to go quiet on this latest attack and investigation’.

 

The reality of the terrorist tactics of the loggers is corroborated by the Hobart Mercury here:

 

Firebombs hit protest camp
KATHY GRUBE
December 03, 2006 12:00am
Article from: The Mercury

FIREBOMBS and rocks were thrown at a group of campers in the Huon Valley early yesterday morning, say conservationists.

The six campers, who are providing support to environmentalists protesting at the logging of the Weld Valley, were staying at a popular camping spot beside the Huon River.

Huon Valley Environment Centre's Jenny Weber said people in three utes attacked the community camp.

"In a potentially life-threatening and violent act, rocks and firebombs were thrown at campers in two separate incidents around 3am," she said.

"A number of beer stubbies filled with petrol and lit with rags were thrown within 2m of where people were sleeping under tarpaulin.

"Luckily it was raining heavily, which meant the fires did not cause any damage."

Tasmania Police have been notified. No campers were hurt during the incident.

Ms Weber said it the camp was peaceful and outside the media and public exclusion zone in the Weld Valley.

The campers are supporting protesters at two tree-sit structures on the Weld River.

"Protests are continuing in the Weld Valley, where World Heritage-quality forests are under immediate threat from clearfelling and woodchipping," Ms Weber said.

Similarly Ms Weber and the environmentalists are reported on the publicly funded ABC:

 

Police investigate alleged petrol bomb attack on protesters
Sunday, 3 December 2006.
From ABC Online

Tasmanian police have confirmed they are investigating allegations rocks and petrol bombs were thrown at campers supporting a treetop protest in the southern Weld Valley.

The campers are opposed to Forestry Tasmania's program to clearfell for woodchips what they say are world heritage quality forests.

They say rocks were hurled at the campsite on the banks of the Huon River by the occupants of three utes at 3:00am AEDT yesterday.

Jenny Weber of the Huon Valley Environment Centre says the protesters were terrified.

"They were yelling obscenities which were anti-green obscenities and then they drove back 20 minutes later," she said.

This time, protesters say the occupants threw molotov cocktails, some of which landed several metres from the tarpaulins under which they had been sleeping.

Huonville police say they have taken statements from members of the group and their allegations are being investigated.

Here is a recent statement by Senator Christine Milne about the backsliding and dishonesty of the Howard Government policy in lock step with the corrupt Lennon ALP state government, on logging of precious carbon store and natural heritage in Tasmania’s forests, and below that the statement from Huon Environment Centre on their website:



MEDIA RELEASE

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Tasmanian Lib senators repudiate PM's forest election pledge

Tasmanian Liberal senators today repudiated Prime Minister John Howard's
2004 election pledge to protect 18,700 ha of old growth forest in the
Styx and Upper Florentine valleys.

The Liberal senators joined coalition colleagues and the ALP to vote
against a motion moved by Greens Senator for Tasmania Christine Milne
calling on the federal government to immediately make good its promise.

"The Senate was asked to call on the federal government to immediately
protect in full all areas that Prime Minister John Howard promised to
protect during the 2004 election," Senator Milne said in Canberra.

"Liberal and Labor senators voted against the motion. The Liberal
Tasmanian senators have effectively repudiated Prime Minister Howard's
election pledge.

"It seems the protection of Tasmania's old growth forests was just
another 'non-core' promise.

"Tasmanians will not forget the Prime Minister's Albert Hall meeting and
his failure to honour his word.

"Any election promise he makes next year will be rightly viewed with
scepticism. On forest protection, the coalition simply can't be
trusted."

Contact: Katrina Willis 02 6277 …. or 0437 …..
www.greens.org.au

Statement of Huon Valley Environment Centre follows here from May 2005:

Black Friday for Tasmania's Forests

Statement by HVEC Convenor on Tasmania's forest package announced Friday 13 May, 2005

Media release of latest logger terrorist violence here:

Weld Valley Support Camp Firebombed Forest Protests continue while World Heritage Quality forests under threat

2nd December 2006

Media Release

Weld Valley Support Camp Firebombed


“In the early hours of this morning, people in three utes attacked the community camp being held on the Huon river in Tasmania’s south to support the Weld Valley Protest.

“In a potentially life threatening and violent act, rocks and firebombs were thrown at campers in two separate incidents at around 3am this morning. Tasmania Police have been notified. No campers were hurt during the incident,” Huon Valley Environment Centre Spokesperson Jenny Weber said.

“A peaceful camp has been held by Weld supporters for the past week outside the media and public exclusion zone in the Weld Valley, while protesters support two tree sit structures on the Weld river. Protests continue in the controversial Weld Valley, where World Heritage quality forests are under immediate threat from clearfelling and woodchipping,” Jenny Weber said.

“23 arrests have been made in the Weld Valley actions over the past three weeks. Community Action to prevent continued logging of ancient ecosystems in Tasmania continues,”

Contact Jenny Weber 0427 ….
www.huon.org

 

There is a pattern to the loggers who after all kill ecologically rich forests for a living with a tendency to political violence as here in January 2006:

 

CLICK HERE FOR QUICKTIME MOVIE OF PROTESTER ASSAULT BY MILL WORKERS (600kb)

LAWYERS FOR FORESTS

MEDIA RELEASE: 31 JANUARY 2006

VIOLENCE AGAINST CONSERVATIONISTS
• COMPLAINT FILED WITH THE NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE

On 27 January 2006, legal assistance was sought from Lawyers for Forests Inc relating to allegations that numerous individuals were being assaulted during a peaceful protest at the South East Fibre Exports Wood Chip Mill Compound in Eden, New South Wales, near the Victorian border.

Lawyers for Forests arranged for legal assistance for the complainant and, as a result, the complainant has filed a complaint with the New South Wales Police today.

The allegations are against employees or contractors of the Chip Mill as well as truck drivers that were at the Mill, and include:
• being assaulted by being sprayed with high pressure hoses
• witnessing another 4 individuals involved in the peaceful protest get directly sprayed with high pressure hoses
• witnessing an individual involved in the peaceful protest who was filming the incident get physically assaulted and harassed.

The complainant explained that individuals at the Chip Mill (who were dressed like and appeared to be security officers) directed the employees or contractors of the Chip Mill to hose her down with the high pressure hoses. The complainant alleges that the Chip Mill workers may have breached occupational health and safety regulations, including by running machinery near the peaceful protesters.

“Lawyers for Forests frequently receives complaints of violence against conservationists during peaceful protests to stop logging old growth forest”, Lawyers for Forests President Vanessa Bleyer said. “There have been no complaints in Victoria for about 12 months now, however complaints coming from New South Wales have increased”.

The complainant explained that at no stage did she or any of the other individuals involved in the peaceful protest become aggressive or threatening. The protest was peaceful. The protest was to stop the wood-chipping of old growth and native forests from East Gippsland in Victoria and from New South Wales.

For more information call:
- Vanessa Bleyer, President of Lawyers for Forests Inc, 0412 …..
- Billy Dain, spokesperson for Goongerah Environment Centre, 03 5154 ….

envvicmay2000.jpg

Postscript #1 - 15th February 2007
 
Adrian Whitehead who is the victim pictured in the bloody image above from Environment Victoria newsletter in 2000, and based in Melbourne and very active on climate change issues these days has sent us this email about that time: 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 11:01 AM
Subject: Re: Logger industry terrorism under the Howard government regime

I wasn't the worst off. We had two girls return to base camp after everyone else fled and they were almost run over in their tent as the loggers drove around the camp after smashing their car and the kitchen area, they were threatened to be killed.

We then had 16 people held hostage and tortured by the [Victorian chapter of the logging division of the CFMEU] in a logging coupe for 5 days.

Adrian
 
...........................
 
Additionally this report of ongoing menaces despite a federal court decision recently that much of logging in Tasmania is illegal for breach of federal threatened species legislation, via Melbourne Independent Media website:
 
"Protests, arrests and agression in Tassie's forests Huon Valley Environment Centre 2007-02-15 12:17 PM
Loggers endangered forest defender’s lives and threatened one with sexual assault
 
During yesterday's two non-violent actions in the Florentine and Weld valley, one forest defender was threatened with sexual assault and two others were endangered when unsafe work practices were used, interfering with their tree-sits.
"The police and logger's attitude to forest defenders were clearly stated yesterday by a Forestry Tasmania employee, who said that protestors have to expect their lives to be endangered if they want to protect the forests," said Huon Valley Environment Centre Jenny Weber

"One forest defender in the Weld Valley was locked on to a piece of machinery for eight hours. During that time loggers threatened to sexual assault him, pouring honey near him to attract March Flies, stink bombs were also thrown at him, the machine he was attached to was started. Another two protestors, had their lives threatened when ropes connected to a tree sit, in the Florentine were cut, and in the Weld Valley machinery was moved,” said Jenny Weber

"Not only is Forestry Tasmania allowing these illegal operations to occur in the world heritage valued forests of the Weld valley and Florentine, but they are also allowing a culture of violence and intimidation to occur against peaceful protestors," said Jenny Weber
[bold added]

“Activists never have and never will endanger the safety of contractors or police. Baseless claims made by the forest industry front groups, are simply an attempt to distract from the illegal destruction of Tasmania’s forests, and contractors own behavior,” Jenny Weber said."
...........................................................
 
Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Brown calls for police action after log truck incident

Greens Senator Bob Brown has called for the police to investigate the
claim that Huon Valley Environment Centre spokesperson Jenny Weber, and
her daughter, were run off the road by a log truck this morning.

Miss Weber has figured prominently in the public campaign to protect the
World Heritage-value Weld Valley forests.

"This is a serious and alarming incident. The driver responsible should
be identified. The police have a difficult job in the forest controversy
and are called upon by the Forestry industry to uphold the law. That
must go both ways," Senator Brown said.

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