Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Democracy Tasmania

Violence in the forest

Last week:
Andrew Darby The Age
TENSIONS over the logging of old-growth forests in Tasmania have boiled over into a violent attack by timber workers, caught on video yesterday. The timber workers are seen attacking a protest car with a sledgehammer and kicking in its windows as they demand that the occupants get out. Read more, Watch here, (after an ad, and with the bleeping out of lovely swear words)
Mercury version here
Forest firebomb attack
Matt Newton

Picture: Anon
Picture: Anon

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Steve

    October 28, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    It’s interesting that the contractors have been charged with common assault.
    There does not appear to be a particularly strong case against them for assault. The victims did not seek medical assistance and the numbers are against them when it comes down to evidence of who did what.
    On the other hand there are a multitude of other charges that could have been laid, which would be much harder to defend as there is the video to support them. There is also the matter of those who supported the attack; accessories?
    I’m not an expert in these matters but I’d be interested in an opinion from anyone who is. Paying a few hundred dollars in fines, or being found not guilty, two years down the track, is going to do little to deter other such attacks.

  2. Paul de Burgh-Day

    October 27, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    I chose to give the man a chance.
    He has blown it. Big time!
    David Bartlett, I dub thee THUGGO II

  3. nic

    October 27, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    footage of the ‘alleged’ sledgehammer attack and other ‘alleged’ incidents – uncensored – is at http://www.nativeforest.net/

  4. Chris Harries

    October 27, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Peter Dombrovskis said that if the Franklin was dammed he would leave Tasmania. He couldn’t cope with the sadness he would have to bear.

    So… greenwitch… I can identify with your decision to leave Tasmania for ‘greener’ pastures.

    To live as a passionate Tasmanian is to witness a never-ending tragedy. The immediacy of what we are doing to the planet is all the more raw when you see it happen before your eyes, wild nature brought into submission overseen by an apparatus that has no inkling of what the future beholds.

  5. Dave Groves

    October 27, 2008 at 9:05 am

    The wedge and division grows deeper and wider.
    I have seen that in my six years living on my island home Tasmania.

    Perceptions in the community of who is right and who is wrong are fiercely driven by vested interests and tiers of government.

    A sustainable forest industry is required, but it must be sustainable.

    What we deal with in Tasmania is rampant and wanton destruction on an industrial scale.
    Massive land clearing of precious native forest and waste of resource on a scale that is pure obscenity is an affront that cannot be ignored.

    We have all seen it. It is real.

    Pro Silva is a tested model that would be a great starting point here in Tasmania and a way to help heal the rift that sets man upon man.


    It supports an holistic approach to forestry and as such encompasses community and gives nature a voice.

    What we have in Tasmania is a culture that has been refined and inbred for many years that gives credence to the heavy handed, the industrialists and miners at the expense of the wider community and agriculturalists.

    We have a system based on inequity that disenfranchises and ignores basic needs.

    We need an inclusive system that supports and nurtures and although I am clearly talking forestry here, we could easily extrapolate this paradigm to the wider community need.

    Bartlett and allies stand shoulder to shoulder with violence and intimidation by the words of inaction and do nothing to enhance the lives of community.

    It is time for our leaders to engage community and really get down to the business of healing the wounds they have inflicted.

    It would be a joyous day to see “loggers” and “protesters” working together to improve each others’ lives while supporting the voiceless forests and fauna within.

    The government has the resources to easily make this happen, but the question remains…..will they?

  6. Chris Harries

    October 26, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Well. now that the alleged forestry thugs have been charged and the alleged forest ‘trespassers’ have been charged the interesting outcome is to wait and see what the court deems to be the worse crime.

    Any bets?

  7. Andreas Faust

    October 26, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Working part time for an environmental organisation for the last six months has given me some interesting insights into the green movement and the way it works. But regardless of that, I have my own views on the recent violence in the Upper Florentine Valley. It might seem unfair to pass judgement, because I’m not one of those involved in the protest, but I can’t help feeling the green movement is just too f**king soft.

    The minute the local rednecks set one of their cars on fire or smash it up with a sledgehammer, they start demanding police protection! Then Bob Brown condemns the ‘vigilantes’ and talks of ‘legality’ and the like. What!? Weren’t the protesters actually breaking the law in the first place (and rightly so)? Wasn’t it the law that all those years ago sent Bob to jail on his birthday for chaining himself to a bulldozer? You can’t have your cake and eat it!

    I don’t sympathise too much with the ‘rednecks’ either, despite coming from peasant stock myself…though on the other hand, the greens aren’t exactly too big on suggesting alternative job prospects for loggers with families to feed. But if you’re gonna be a rebel, then for f**k’s sake be a rebel. Don’t go whinging to the cops…learn to fight. The forest is a WILD place, especially the Tasmanian forest, where the undergrowth is often so thick you need a machete to get through it. There are places here where no human foot has ever trod.

    The point of saving the forests isn’t so latte-sipping yuppies and metrosexuals can come down from the mainland, walk round on signposted boardwalk and claim they’ve ‘done’ Tasmania. No, the forests should be saved because they’re f**king WILD. They’re an abode of dreams and nightmares. In the immortal words of Burzum: “When the days are failing and the years are ending, I walk into the woods…”

    I was interested to read an article in a conservative magazine recently which bluntly stated that “forests are the abodes of magic. Look to forested areas for resistance to innovation. Even European fairy tales insist on the forest’s mystery. Islam, with its abhorrence of magic, had nothing to offer African forest tribes to replace the beliefs that enveloped them. In northern Europe, too, monotheism faced its greatest difficulty in penetrating forested expanses, and the persistence of essentially pagan folk beliefs in the forested mountains of eastern Europe can startle a visitor today. The forest, with its magic, is the opponent of globalization. Unlike the monotheist faiths with their propulsive desert origins, it only menaces those who insist on entering it.” (Ralph Peters, ‘Return of the Tribes’ in ‘The Weekly Standard’)

    Perhaps in the future a wall of heathens will silently emerge from the grey-black curtain of trees, armed only with hunting knives, to initiate a Wild Hunt…and destroy the usurpers. Destroy the *real* enemy…not the rednecks…but Gunns Ltd.

    I hunger for that day.



  8. Brian Walters SC

    October 26, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    This is no isolated incident. There have now been several violent attacks by loggers against environmentalists, some of which have resulted in serious injury – and worse.

    In December 1998 Peter Stienke (“Fisherman Pete”) was by himself minding a conservationists’ camp at Goolengook (East Gippsland) over Christmas. His car was found at the camp with the door open and food and drinks on the passenger seat. Despite a search by police, Fisherman Pete was never found and is missing, presumed dead. He left a 14 year old son.

    The bar room talk in the district is that his body was buried under a log landing.

    The industry stands condemned by its defence – even advocacy – of this criminality. Premier Bartlett offers no leadership, merely the same supine support for the loggers – no matter what outrage they commit.

    Resort to violence demonstrates that the policy of logging Tasmania’s high conservation value forests cannot be justified rationally.

  9. Steve

    October 26, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    17; That’s the saddest thing Dismord (17). I too know many people in the forestry industry and on the whole they are decent people. Unfortunately there has been a systematic campaign over many years to drive a wedge through Tasmanian society. Forestry on one side, environmentalists on the other.
    I believe this has been done deliberately to protect profits and that those responsible are the real criminals in all this.

  10. Christopher Purcell

    October 26, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I’m REALLY frustrated with Bartlett’s Labor Party…

  11. Goodnight Cobbers

    October 26, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Tess’ post says it all – “I do not agree with violence but … “

  12. Bob McMahon

    October 26, 2008 at 11:29 am

    The logging industry has just given us their version of the Jameison Raid (precursor to the Boer War).The manipulators in the logging industry, FT and Government (you know who I mean), are stupid enough to attempt to take advantage of the climate of greenie-baiting, in the mistaken belief that the embarrassing richness of meatheads we have in Tasmania constitutes the majority. While you might see the meathead as your natural constituency It does not constitute the majority.

    The recent violence is an admission of weakness and failure. The equivocation from Bartlett and Gordon is the behaviour of unprincipled men determined to place themselves on the losing side. We deserve better enemies, but there is a special circle of hell reserved for practitioners of such feeble malice.

  13. phill Parsons

    October 26, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Readers may remember the debate on TT about whether fascism could happen in Tasmania. At that time we had Lennon in government and it appears that the police did the government’s bidding. [Ellis has exposed this with the prosecution of Johnson and his opposition to McCreadie, who even the cops didn’t want back]

    Readers may also remember thaa thuggery by forestry workers and their supporters has a long history in Tasmania. Anytime protest becomes effective. Brian Green will remember that from the days outside the gates at the pulp in Burnie

    Thuggery is historicallly popular with fascists.

    Further, fascists, when they become government alter the law so that what they do becomes legal although on any test it remains immoral.

    Could the Premier explain how, when the evidence of threat to enadngered species is clear and when the law precludes further endangerment forestry under the RFA and the PTR system allows endanfgerment to continue. The synchronous decline of the swift parrot and the export of woodchips from the offest in its range is too damming to ignore.

    Further, now that the channels of legal appeal have been closed by the RFA, the PTR system and the PMAA what process beyond direct intervention to protect the natural capital upon which we alll depend is available.

    By the time the fools in government, unqualified in the managment of natural capital, and their advisers, hand picked for their compliance, complete the degradation of its value in a fire sale of assetts the impacts will be at best very costly.

    This fire sale is a market scam that Tasmanians are seeing the tip of as their power and water bills escalate whilst the availability of clean product declines.

    For those things that are not given a value the many who value them will know to tick the Green box every time their legal recourse gives them opportunity.

    The citizens of Canberra followed the many Austrlaians who followed the citizens of Byron Bay at their last election.

    The more harm you do, the more contradictory your utternces and the outcome the fewer are your followers.

    Labor and Liberal will find that as the conmsequences of degrading natural capital come home to roost their believers will decline and they will need much more than fine words, good spin doctors and nice suits to convince those who have to pay for their incompetence.

  14. Pete Godfrey

    October 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

    It appears that David Bartlett has fallen back on the old game of blaming the victims.
    It has been the fallback position for ages to blame victims of rape, violence and opression for the position they find themselves in.
    He is carrying it on and that is not what is happening.
    Bartlett needs to remember that the protestors are trying to stop something that the majority of Tasmanians want stopped. If fact they have the support of the people of Tasmania not the woodchippers.
    So it is time he stood up for the protestors and did his job of representing the people of Tasmania. Remember the Tasmania Together process David, sure your predecessor destroyed most of it and ignored the people but that can only go on for a while then the people react with their votes and their feet.

  15. Justa Bloke

    October 26, 2008 at 9:59 am

    The answer to your question at the end of post #13, shock2wave, is that the Mercury believes in income, including that from forestry companies and from their supporters.

    Evidence-based reporting is only one (often inferior) way of running a newspaper.

    We should be thankful that such incidents even get reported in the mainstream media, however inadequately. In many parts of the world a journalist who reported such an incident would meet a fate far worse than what happened to the young protesters.

  16. Dismord

    October 26, 2008 at 1:37 am

    The question facing us (ie you, me and most of the other posters …………….. I have seen too many non-violent people killed. On the other hand, I know that violent response doesn’t work, either.
    Personally, I believe that there is no solution, that we (and the planet) are doomed to suffer at the hands of those who are prepared to use violent means to further their own cause.
    Posted by Justa Bloke on 24/10/08 at 12:37 PM
    Time we all read Arthur Koestler’s “The Ghost in The Machine’ and learnt why our species will not, and does not, deserve to survive.

  17. Dismord

    October 26, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Sadly what we’re seeing here is what many outside of Tasmania take to be it’s heart and soul. Given the history of this state they may be correct.
    Although Tasmania was and still is run by brainless, violent red-necks it’s important to remember that not all forestry workers are as insane as the perpetrators of these acts. My neighbor, a logger all his life, talks sensibly about global warming and the excessive speed at which this states forests are being stripped bare.
    OK, he’s an exception but lets not tar them all with the same brush. There are actually some potential allies in the industry although if they were found to be helping us ‘Greenies’ they’d probably have their houses burnt down. It’s happened before! !

  18. Mike Bolan

    October 26, 2008 at 12:14 am

    I write with two serious concerns about the legal system in Tasmania. The first relates directly to a comment in the DPP’s recent press release, the second to an unfortunate series of violent events that appear to have the tacit approval of the highest levels of government. The connection between the two issues is the forestry industry and the bias that the government appears to show towards them.

    1) On 24 October, the Director of Public Prosecutions released a media statement which said, in part, ‘I.. will not agree to the elitist suggestion that there should be, in effect, one set of laws and rules for the powerful or well-connected, who are able to enlist media and political support, and another for everyone else.’

    Surely the DPP must realise that there already is one set of laws for everyone else, and a different, reduced set of laws favourable to one industry – forestry – which also regulates and polices itself.

    The forestry industry has been excluded from normal planning processes (e.g. Gunns pulp mill, LUPA), has had special laws written to favour forestry and disadvantage the wider community (e.g. Pulp Mill Assessment Act which removes taxpayers rights of appeal).

    Forestry is exempt from environmental and other laws that apply to everyone else (e.g. Natural Vegetation Act, Clean Air Act, Freedom of Information Act), and receives substantial public subsidies that themselves are not properly reported.

    These subsidies, which comprise free resources, cash and cost reductions total around $250 million per year.

    Forestry produces large amounts of smoke during its burn offs, which threatens the health of honest taxpayers yet they have no recourse because the industry is self regulating and self policing. In other words, when taxpayers seek restitution for forestry industry damages, they must appeal to the forest industry itself – a direct violation of the principles of natural justice.

    There’s more, but suffice it to say that from a community perspective, it appears that it would not be an ‘elitist suggestion’ to say there was a special set of rules for the powerful and well connected, rather it appears to be a matter of fact.

    Discrimination in favour of particular industries and against taxpayers, is destabilising Tasmanian communities while fuelling suspicion and resentment of the government.

    2) Recently violent attacks were reported against forest protesters, in one a car allegedly smashed with sledge hammers and the occupant forcibly dragged out and kicked in the head. After this event, Bob Gordon, head of Forestry Tasmania was reported as laying the blame for the attack on the victims, the forest protesters. After Mr Gordon had apparently given his tacit approval to the violence, justifying it as being ‘provoked’, another night time attack was carried out in which the forest camp of the protesters was firebombed and burned out. After this attack the Premier, Mr Bartlett, was reported as blaming the protesters and again suggesting that it was the predictable result of provocation.

    We should all be deeply concerned that our government and our systems of government can appear to give such favouritism to one industry. Worse, they appear to be justifying illegal acts of violence and property damage with claims of provocation.
    The two tier legal system coupled with apparent justifications of illegality in that one industry can be interpreted as a signal to others that discrimination, and the justification of illegal acts by provocation, are acceptable parts of our society.

    The government must set the record straight on these matters and help we citizens to understand the facts of these matters and whether or not provocation is an excuse for violence.

    Who in this government will set the standard for legitimate behaviour?

  19. Tess

    October 25, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    I have found from past experience that these protestors taunt and abuse the contractors and their employees, I have seen them climb over trucks whilst loaded and moving, who gets the blame if they are injured whilst trying to stop a loaded truck??? The contractor of course and he is only trying to go about his lawful employment whilst these people are allowed time and again to break the law.

    I have seen them light camp fires whilst protesting in the middle of the worst bushfire season we have so far seen, they have also left their pet dog in the comby hidden in the bush whilst they sneek on site and lock it down, this poor dog had no water and no windows open for over 4 hours until complaints were made to them of their cruelty. I do not agree with violence but when these people are treated that way by some of the protestors most have a breaking point and boy oh boy do these protestors know how to push those buttons that would make any sane person crack

  20. David Leigh

    October 25, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    When a State premier makes a comment, in response to a vicious attack on protesters, that they [protesters] should stay out of forests and leave forest workers to carry out their legitimate work, it implies that violent behaviour towards protesters is legitimate. Premier Bartlett’s comments could and possibly will escalate what is a tinderbox situation in our forests. This irresponsible behaviour, on the part of the State Premier flies in the face of democracy. It is a given right of Australians to peacefully protest against anything they do not agree with. It is the only way a democratic society can show opposition to individual policies and situations. Premier Bartlett has shown once again that he is unfit to lead a democratic government and should, like his predecessor and two deputy premiers, resign from office. How much more do the people have to see before they realise that this government is totally dysfunctional and out of touch with the views and wishes of the majority of Tasmanians.

    David Leigh.

  21. Goodnight Cobbers

    October 25, 2008 at 3:13 am

    I face challenges and pressure every day and have never ever considered the disgraceful behaviour these contractors undertook. These men (and I use the word loosely) are nothing short of bitter and twisted animals. Their business is environmental destruction and each and every one of them should be ashamed about what happened in the forest the other day and what has happened prior. I hope these thugs have the fucking book thrown at them. And I hope the crew who endured this horrific act are proud of themselves – because I am. I have three young children and what you do and continue to do makes me feel more confident about their future(s). Well done guys, maintain the passive rage – and remember – the video camera paints a million words.

  22. Bruce/Rosevears

    October 23, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    These forestry oafs and their supporters think they have grounds for violence due to the pressure they are under.
    They have not been threatened with violence, have been assaulted, had their cars fire bombed, rifle shots fired over their camp, arrested, fined, or sued for damages.
    Protesters have, and have not resulted to physical violence.
    This oafish behaviour and the verbal support by other low brained oafs brings no credit to Tasmania.
    Oooh I had better shut up

  23. Justa Bloke

    October 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Actually, Garry, it sounds very Australian to me. It is, after all, only a microcosm version of the mentality that sends young Aussies off to war – “Go on, kick that Jap, Gerry, Slopehead, Arab, in the head. Good onya!”

    Many governments, of both major parties, have been elected over the decades on the basis of urging us to enact violence upon “the other”. It is the Australian way. I am pretty sure it as also the American, British, French, German, Ethiopian, Bulgarian etc etc way.

    The question facing us (ie you, me and most of the other posters on this thread) is how do we stop this. I have never been attracted to non-violence as a principle, because I have seen too many non-violent people killed. On the other hand, I know that violent response doesn’t work, either.

    Personally, I believe that there is no solution, that we (and the planet) are doomed to suffer at the hands of those who are prepared to use violent means to further their own cause. That does not mean I give up, but that I fight in the knowledge that if you don’t fight, you don’t win, but if you do fight, you lose. Have a happy Spring.

  24. Garry Stannus

    October 23, 2008 at 12:54 am

    If the guy in the yellow helmet was Forestry, you could see him standing with what I take to be a protester, by the front passenger door, and then he moves away, when the first bloke comes quickly to begin the violence. You see another one get in on the act: one is wielding a sledgehammer, the second one is kicking out windows with his foot. Then you see what seems like the door being opened and something being pulled out onto the ground and one of the attackers kicking the thing on the ground. That’s what I like about football: eighteen men get to show how brave they are against someone else. And the faint-hearts are too gutless to stop their so-called mates. Australian? Yes!

    And these heroes, these men of the bush, these true-blue aussies, haven’t got the guts to stand up to those who have sold them out, haven’t got the guts to tell the CFMEU what a weak Company union they are, haven’t got the guts except to gang up on a couple of kids, and terrorise them, drag im out, kick im in the head, Good on ya!

    Hey True blue…

    Garry in Liffey

  25. Ralph

    October 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    >This is not an excusable action.

    You’re right, I imagine it’s why FT took it to the police.

  26. pilko

    October 22, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Dear Ferdie (Kroon)
    Manager TFCA

    I am compelled to write to you after viewing the horrific video footage of logging contractors carrying out the violent attack on forest protesters. This violence is very very nasty and was carried out in a frenzied and murderous rage.
    For me this incident reinforces my fears about logging contractors.
    I suspect however that to strike fear into the public is perhaps one of the intended consequences of such actions.

    After seeing this footage and then your comments on the news last night where you failed to condemn without qualification – as you should have – the actions of these contractors, but rather chose to support them and call for more ‘protections’ for logging contractors i felt sickened.

    Having lived in Tasmania all my life I have seen this sort of violence perpetrated by the logging contractors all before. It was only a few months back we saw a violent attack by “forest workers” on a lilydale resident during the dispute over plantations in that town.

    I think you have shown very poor judgement in your public comments as reported on the TV news last night. There is simply never ever any excuse for the sort of murderous rage and violence that we saw from contractors yeterday.

    Nothing justifies this type of violence.

    The incident was a terrible example to all men on how they should behave and in particular a terrible example to our children.

    I have lived in this state all my life and the attack by the contractors was one of the most sickening acts of violence i have witnessed anywhere. This incident does nothing to allay public concerns about the nature of the logging industry and its image as a ‘thug’ industry which imposes itself with thuggery and violence on people and communities who get in its way.

    After hearing your comments on the news last night i have lost confidence in your ability as head of the FCA to manage your men and these sorts of situations.
    At the very least I believe you should seriously re-consider yesterdays public comments.

    Rick Pilkington

    (Ferdie Kroons email – admin@tfca.com.au)

  27. phill Parsons

    October 22, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Wher do you get an unedited version, the footage on TV was bad enough ?.

    And then to hear the victimns say a Forestry Tasmania officer stood by and did not even present an arguement about the law or the effect on image of this attack.

    A few reports later and forestry officers have become blind.

    Next the cops will say there is insufficient evidence and the victimns only recourse will be a civil case.

    Although the shortage of Labor in the top ranks may just see a different outcome the ideas of modern policing creepinf in ever since the academy opened.

    Lawyers for Forests should que now.

  28. Justa Bloke

    October 22, 2008 at 3:44 am

    The only way non-violent protest can be defeated or defused is with non-violence. These blokes should have lain down their sledgehammers, relaxed their fists, and surrounded the car peacefully and silently. Given that the vehicle was wheelless, there was no chance they would get run over.

    Result would then have been a victory for all, especially the forest. After a few days of immobility, I bet they would have all chipped in to send someone for pizza and beer.

  29. Steve

    October 22, 2008 at 12:36 am

    I find the scariest thing about this, is the number of comments on the Mercury that reckon this is the way to deal with people who threaten your livelihood.
    As a business person, I’ve lost various sums over the years due to union action. How many people would have supported me if I’d fronted picket lines with a baseball bat or (given the disadvantage of numbers) an automatic firearm?
    Sorry guys, once we head down this path, it doesn’t stop. Try logging your coupes whilst the greenies pick you off with high powered rifles from a mile away. There’s a reason why we don’t all take the law into our own hands and that is that it doesn’t benefit anyone in the long term.
    Let’s hope that sanity prevails and the next appearance of these thugs has bars interrupting the view. That includes Mr “oh so innocent” Forestry Tasmania. Accessory before, and after, the fact.

  30. Dave Groves

    October 21, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    The noise of blotted swearing sounds like Morse code with glass smashing constantly while men circle the occupied vehicle like vultures.

    I have seen the unedited version and it is very frightening.

    The spin of defence put by vested forestry promoters just doesn’t wash.

    Would it be the same if one of their family members was in the car?

    Would it be ok then to violently shower them with glass and scream abuse while swinging a hefty lump of steel about?

    Of course not!

    This is not an excusable action.

    If the bloke has problems and Ferdie Kroon was aware, then why didn’t he organise some counselling for this man?

    Perhaps he has failed his duty of care to a member?

    How many more of these “frustrated” time bomb renegade individuals are out there ready to swing sledgehammers or do worse?

    It’s a sad tale to defend the indefensible and then gallingly persecute the victims, but for the forest industry it seems it has become a way of life.

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