10 February, 2016
Anti-industry protesters at Lapoinya are unnecessarily putting themselves, forest workers and police at risk by unlawfully entering an active harvesting work site.
Senator Richard Colbeck said comments by protesters that their goal was to "get close enough to shut it down" (The Advocate, 9 February 2016) are deeply concerning.
"In 2013 a forestry worker was killed while patrolling an active forestry coupe in northern NSW that was the target of forest protesters," Senator Colbeck said.
"That was an absolute tragedy and is stark reminder that tragic consequences can occur from what some people claim to be peaceful protest activity. The only reason the worker was in the coupe was to monitor protesters. "
Senator Colbeck said the Tasmanian Workplaces (Protection form Protestors) Act does not stop people from protesting. It seeks to stop protestors from entering worksites and putting themselves and workers at risk.
"Protesters at Lapoinya are perfectly entitled to protest outside the operational area of the forestry harvesting activity," Senator Colbeck said.
"When they enter the harvesting area they not only put themselves at risk but they also risk the safety of forestry workers and police who may be required to enter the work site to remove them."
Senator Colbeck said forest harvest operations are inherently dangerous work sites, especially once harvesting operations have commenced.
"I urge forest protesters at Lapoinya to protest in a peaceful manner which doesn't compromise anyone's safety or stop forest workers from going about their legitimate business," he said.
"When you enter an active coupe without permission you not only put your own life at risk, you also risk the lives of others - this is anything but peaceful.
"The fact remains that the harvesting area is part of the Permanent Timber Production Zone and has passed all required environmental approvals."