Labor must act on forest trespass offenders

The Andrews Labor Government must enforce trespass laws and remove unlawful protesters who invade forestry coupes, according to Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
As fires burned out of control and threatened lives and properties in recent days, reports have emerged of forest contractors who were asked to help, but couldn’t get their equipment to fire zones due to unlawful protests.
Contractor Brad Meyer has spoken out after he was contacted by VicForests to help fight fires but could not move six machines, including two vital bulldozers and a harvester, due to protest activity in a coupe which began weeks earlier.
In Question Time this week Premier Daniel Andrews claimed he was unaware of the situation - despite coverage by numerous media outlets and viral social media posts.
“Strict laws and penalties exist to deal with trespassers in forestry coupes, so why isn’t Daniel Andrews using them?” Mr Bull queried.
“The situation at the weekend, where a contractor’s equipment was reportedly locked up by protestors and unable to be used in a severe emergency, is completely unacceptable.
“On our farms and now in our forests, Daniel Andrews is quietly endorsing unlawful trespassers instead of taking a strong stand and protecting legitimate jobs and law-abiding businesses.
“The Premier is crippling our forest industries, starving mills of timber resources, putting harvest and haulage contractors at risk of bankruptcy, and threatening the jobs of tens of thousands of people who work across Victoria’s timber supply chain.”
Gippsland South MP, Danny O’Brien added “if the Premier was serious about supporting our forest industries, he would be enforcing trespass laws and ensuring lawful workers and businesses can get on with their jobs.”
Under laws introduced by the Liberal Nationals Government in 2013, it is an offence in Victoria to be within 150 metres of operational timber harvesting coupes and on-the-spot fines can be issued to trespassers who violate forest public safety zones. It is also an offence to interfere with timber harvesting activity.
Wednesday, March 6, 2019