By Rosemary Bulger / The Examiner
Activists have vowed to continue to target timber processor Ta Ann Tasmania, after two people were arrested for chaining themselves to equipment at its Smithton mill yesterday.
The protest was condemned by the state government and frustrated peak environment groups involved in the forestry peace process.
About 40 people, including members of the Australia Student Environment Network from across Australia, forced the mill to grind to a halt yesterday.
Still Wild Still Threatened spokeswoman Miranda Gibson said the forestry legislation had failed to protect Tasmania’s forests.
Although the legislation passed Parliament in April, the Legislative Council must still approve a protection order for more than 500,000 hectares of forests.
A durability report, assessing whether the forestry legislation is working since it was passed in April this year, will form the basis of its deliberations.
Ms Gibson said it would be better off to “start again and find something better”.
“This agreement isn’t going to work: what we still see is forests falling every day,” she said.
A joint statement from the three environmental signatories to the forestry agreement described the protest as “uncalled for, unnecessary and counter to the creation of new reserves in Tasmania”.
“It is difficult to see the environmental benefit of this action given that Ta Ann Tasmania supports the protection of half a million hectares of new forest reserves and the recent World Heritage extension,” the statement said.
The company said: “The protest is based on false claims about the Tasmanian Forest Agreement by radical groups that have been outside the process. Ta Ann Tasmania has committed to only purchase timber sourced from production zones authorised by the forest peace legislation.”
Within hours of environmental activists storming Ta Ann at Smithton, pro-development group Unlock Tasmania had organised a protest of its own – against the protest.
More than 100 people joined the march down Smithton’s main street to show their support for the workers at Ta Ann.
Spokesman and Liberal candidate for Braddon Joan Rylah said fly-in activists had no place in Tasmania.
“Tasmanians have a stark choice between political groups using law-breaking attacks or supporting law-abiding groups who support law-abiding companies employing Tasmanian people,” Mrs Rylah said.