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Owls' legal case and plans to burn Victoria's native forests for fuel

The protection of owls might soon go to the Supreme Court and a proposed regulatory change will allow native forest wood to be burnt for electricity. It was been tabled in the House of Reps today, 27 May 2015. There is a danger that Bill Shorten's Labor Party might support the bill, despite what that says about our renewable energy scheme. Read on to find out how we might fight this.

Owls' Legal Case

The court-ordered mediation with the department and VicForests last week did not resolve.
The next step is a Directions hearing on the 26th of June to have the matter heard in the Supreme Court.
We can’t give you much more detail than that at this stage. In the meantime, tell Minister Neville and her Department to protect our rare Owls and their forest in East Gippsland.  And if you’d like to help us along with this 4th legal challenge (so far we’ve won or settled 3/3) click here to make a tax-deductible donation.”

Read the background to this case here

Bill tabled to burn forests as ‘renewable energy’

The regulatory change that will allow native forest wood to be burnt for electricity has been tabled in the House of Reps today.
It looks like Bill Shorten’s Labor Party might support the bill, even though it means undermining our renewable energy scheme.  This is urgent. Please make a quick phone call to Bill Shorten's office and urge that Labor opposes this.   (02) 6277 4022.

If Labor opposes this, the vote will be decided by the independents on the crossbench in the Senate. The Senate sits again on June 15, so contact the cross benchers and let them know that you want them to vote against the change to the regulation.

A few suggested points to raise are available here

Some of the crossbenchers have been concerned that the industry will need certainty, and Labor could reverse the regulatory change next in government, so that uncertainty is a point to raise as well. Plus, many still believe the lie that the ‘waste’ will only be the heads and sweepings (!) There needs to be a very clear definition provided before anyone votes on this. 

From our experience, emails are good but can get ‘lost’, so phone calls or tweets are better. 

Ricky Muir (03) 5144 3639

Glenn Lazarus (07) 3001 8940

Nick Xenophon 08 8232 1144

John Madigan   (03) 5331 2321

Dio Wang (08) 9221 2233

David Leyonhjelm (02) 9719 1078

Plus there are some quick petitions to sign if you haven’t already.

Truly folks – this is a massively serious threat that is looming. It needs your help!


I thought the idea of "renewable energy" was its low carbon emissions and clean-ness. Burning wood gives off Greenhouse gases so why would anyone with half a brain suggest burning our forests when we have coal? What's the difference in GGEs between wood and coal? If there's no saving in GGEs, then there is no advantage in it being "renewable" !!

Logging in East Gippsland is not commercially viable and cutting down native forests across the region is racking up losses of up to $5.5 million a year, internal government documents reveal. That's the high monetary cost of logging our native forests, in the cause of producing "jobs"!

A leaked report revealed that East Gippsland logging is being cross-subsidised by profitable harvesting in the state's Central Highlands.

The report floats the idea of the government subsidising VicForests to continue East Gippsland logging. A separate internal VicForests corporate plan for 2013-14 to 2015-16 characterises the last option as treating logging operations in East Gippsland as a "Community Service Obligation." So, they are doing the people of East Gippsland a favour, of providing a "community service" they don't want?

VicForests general manager of planning, Nathan Trushell, said that "[East Gippsland] operations are expected to cost approximately $1 million this year with this expense covered by profitable operations elsewhere in the state." So why is the destruction continuing, under the guise of an "industry"? Probably to keep the political fat-cats in Spring Street, and justify their staff and public servants!

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said overall VicForests had remained profitable in 2013-14 and the industry supported jobs in Melbourne and regional Victoria. No other private industry would survive so long, without taxpayer subsidies, and losing money for "jobs" in regional Victoria is a water-thin reason for continuing. They would be better employed by digging holes, and filling them again! It would oxygenate the soils too!

Despite recent focus on the Central Highlands, logging in East Gippsland has also been heavily contested by environmentalists and scientists for decades.

The Age: Logging in East Gippsland losing up to 55 million a year (28/5/15)

In a slap on the face to the Victorian government, the Gippsland environment group Goongerah Environment Centre (GEC) last week was shortlisted for the prestigious United Nations World Environment Day Awards in the Habitat Restoration and Biodiversity category.

VicForests were exposed for illegally logging ancient old-growth forests, but it was covered up and denied by the government. In face of this exposure by the Goongerah Environment Centre (GEC) they were threatened with prosecution for entering a “timber harvesting safety zone”.

Victorian environment minister Lisa Neville said: “There was extremely poor practice and it was probably a fine line whether this was a breach or not.” This "fine line" meant the vandalism of trees hundred of years old!

“The state government are shielding VicForests’ logging operations from public scrutiny.

GEC spokesperson Ed Hill said: “It’s a great honour to have made the shortlist for this prestigious award that recognises significant contributions to the conservation of biodiversity by local community groups. Ironically the Victorian government are threatening to prosecute our volunteers for doing the exact work the United Nations has recognised and shortlisted us as finalists for.

Green Left:Victorian government threatens environment group honoured by UN

No action is to taken by the DELWPH 1  or the police to prosecute a farmer who, on 26 May trespassed on Waterboard land at Boneo on Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. The farmer trespassed in order to release dogs to drive kangaroos, who were sheltering in the bush back onto his cleared farmland where he then killed an unknown number with 100 rounds of ammunition. Four more kangaroos were driven onto the road and killed by passing motor vehicles and two live joeys were killed by his dogs.

According to the ABC News of 19/5/2015 the Goongerah Environment Centre were threatened with prosecution for trespassing in order to protect rainforest on the Errinundra Plateau with clearing. The ABC reports:

Ed Hill from GECO said he was shocked by the threats.

"Quite frankly we're disgusted that the Government would threaten to prosecute community members for getting out there and basically doing the work that the Government is meant to be doing and holding VicForests accountable to state laws that protect unique environmental values, like rainforest," he said.

On the same day the ABC also reported in the story Errinundra Plateau rainforest canopy needlessly destroyed in East Gippsland, Environment Dept report finds:

A report from the Department of Environment has revealed VicForests' contractors needlessly destroyed rainforest canopy in East Gippsland.

The department visited the area in April to investigate claims VicForests had illegally logged rainforest on the Errinundra Plateau.


Investigators said they were concerned because there was no obvious reason why the rainforest canopy had been destroyed.

It said VicForests retained a degree of culpability because it did not tell its contractors not to harvest the trees.

It said regulatory action would not succeed because of a lack of conclusive evidence but it recommended VicForests review its guidelines.

Last week, Environment Minister Lisa Neville said she would send in department staff to conduct spot checks on VicForests' logging activities.

The Victorian Greens' forestry spokeswoman, Samantha Dunn, said independent ecologists and inspectors should be deployed to keep an eye on VicForests.

"I've seen a wealth of material produced by the community out there which clearly indicates rainforest species have been felled, it's a bit laughable in terms of yes the evidence has actually gone off on a logging truck to the mill now, so no wonder there's inconclusive evidence," she said.


1. ↑  Does anyone know what the acronym ' DELWPH' stands for? - Ed