The Daniel Andrews government passed draconian new legislation that will see forest activists in Victoria face increased fines of up to $21,000 or 12 months in jail for peaceful protest in forests scheduled for logging. The Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022 gives "authorised officers" broad and dangerously intrusive "stop and search" powers.
Sixty seven human rights, environment, climate action and legal groups (including the Victorian Forest Alliance) published an open letter calling for Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to immediately withdraw the law which would punish peaceful protesters.
The new laws came into effect on Saturday 20 May 2023.
- Many world-renowned National Parks and significant heritage areas in Australia have been protected by just these sorts of protests
- This is supposedly for the safety for loggers, but there is no evidence of any direct workplace risks
- The Human Rights Law Centre called it unnecessary, undemocratic, and threatens our fundamental democratic freedom to protest
You can take action by emailing your local member!
- Identify the Bill you're objecting to (Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment Bill 2022)
- Say how you feel about it (politely!)
- Say what you think is wrong with it
- Urge the government to rapidly end native forest logging and immediately protect forests
Dear [YOUR LOCAL MP],
I'm writing to express my grave concern and disappointment that peaceful forest protests have recently been criminalised through the Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022.
Peaceful protesters now face heavy fines and up to 12 months imprisonment for disrupting logging operations. It's claimed that this is to protect timber workers, but no evidence of workplace risks has been made public in the context of this Bill. The changes also introduced heavy handed penalties for citizen scientists looking for wildlife in forests under imminent threat of logging.
The Victorian Charter of Human Rights provides for the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The right to peaceful protest is also protected by the implied freedom of political communication under the Australian Constitution.
This Bill is not only unnecessary; it is undemocratic and undermines critical civil and political rights.
In a time of climate crisis, healthy native forests are more important than ever.
I'm asking you, as my local member, to do everything in your power to withdraw this dangerous attack on my right to peacefully protest, by repealing these new laws.
[Your name and postcode]