Right to Farm criminalises forest protests

Right to Farm bill a covert means of criminalising forest protests

MEDIA RELEASE - 25 September 2019

The North East Forest Alliance has slammed the Right to Farm Bill 2019 now before the NSW parliament as a covert attack on the rights to peacefully protest or even audit forestry operations on public lands.

If this bill passes it will mean that if we do anything to hinder a logging operation on public lands we will be liable to fines of up to $22,000 or imprisonment for 3 years, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

"In a time of climate emergency and an extinction crisis, this is an unprecedented and reprehensible assault on our civil rights, aimed at stopping any future actions to protect our public lands.

"It is no coincidence that this coincides with protest actions in the Kalang headwaters near Bellingen and Braemar State Forest near Casino.

"The Right to Farm Bill 2019 includes forestry as an agricultural activity and makes any activity that hinders, or attempts or intends to hinder, logging an 'aggravated offence' liable to a $22,000 fine or imprisonment for 3 years if a person entering enclosed lands is accompanied by 2 or more other people.

"Enclosed lands are defined to include State forests where they are fenced or defined by a natural feature, which includes most State Forests.

"Even if NEFA incites of induces people to enter a State Forest we will be liable for a $11,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months.

"This bill is intended to increase penalties for logging protests in an attempt to stop any future peaceful protests that hinder logging operations.

"Though a broad interpretation it could mean that even our forest audits make us liable to fines and imprisonment.

"It says a lot that this draconian legislation is being promulgated on the 40th anniversary of successful protests to protect Terania Creek and the 30th anniversary of protests to stop logging of rainforest in the North Washpool Wilderness.

"The Berejiklian Government is using the rights to farm as a covert means of criminalising public forest protests. This is a fight for democracy as this bill is aimed at outlawing effective protest." Mr. Pugh said.

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