Forestry Tasmania has prohibited community members from 800,000 hectares of public land in what is the latest round of attempts to silence scrutiny of their forest destruction.
Nineteen citizens issued with notices prohibiting them from entering state forests have filed a Supreme Court challenge to Forestry Tasmania’s misuse of their safety provisions.
The nineteen had been engaged in protests in a 17-hectare remnant rainforest logging coupe at Meunna on the northern edge of takayna, but have been served prohibition notices covering the entirety of the 812,000 hectare “permanent” logging zones and all forest roads.
“At the heart of this Supreme Court case is a government agency that thinks it can silence public opposition to native forest logging, by prohibiting those who protest their activity from publicly owned forests. These prohibition notices state that we cannot re-enter public forests until given written permission by Forestry Tasmania,” said Bob Brown Foundation takayna / Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
“I, and my co-litigants, entered a 17-hectare logging coupe to peacefully protest ongoing logging. We complied with the directions of attending police officers, including directions to leave the site. We have now been prohibited from 812,000 hectares of public forests. Forever. This is an attempt to silence our protests and punish us as protestors.”
“Forestry Tasmania has, in our view, unlawfully misapplied a provision of the Act that addresses genuine public safety measures. It’s an excessive overreach to ban opponents from public forests that Forestry Tasmania’s website tells us to visit, go camping and bushwalking in.”
“As a result of these prohibitions, parents and grandparents can’t take their children to Tasmania’s public forests. Some of us can’t perform duties related to our employment. Some of us can’t even access our properties.”
“This must be challenged. Protest is an essential right in a free democracy. This case will ask the court to reassert the constitution’s implied protection of that right,” Bob Brown Foundation takayna / Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
The prohibition order powers under the Forest Management Act 2013 empower the forest manager to prohibit people from a certain area for a certain period in the event of a fire, unsafe road, or a similar genuine public safety risk. Used against the Meunna 19, the orders over the entire state forest estate are for an indeterminate period and are beyond the scope of the Act’s intended authority and are an encroachment on the constitutional implied right to political communication as found in Brown v Tasmania in 2017.