In the Federal Court today, Justice Moshinsky, stopped mining company MMG’s heavy machinery from its invasion of the takayna / Tarkine for preliminary work on a toxic waste dump.
Justice Moshinsky has made clear that MMG is not to bring any of its machinery or vehicles – light or heavy - down roads that pass the very Exclusion Zones it has set up to protect Tasmanian Masked Owls.
“MMG's arrogant flouting of the Federal Court ruling was illegal,” Bob Brown said.
“We have had good citizens arrested and one to jail, because MMG has breached a Federal Court ruling. This is so wrong. MMG's decision makers should have been arrested, not our peaceful forest defenders,” Bob Brown said.
“Where were the state and federal law makers? Environment Minister Plibersek has failed to ensure this fragile forest and its endangered Masked owls were protected as required by the Federal Court,” Brown said.
In a rare and possibly unprecedented event, the Supreme Court has ordered Minister Guy Barnett to provide an affidavit. It’s likely the Minister will be a witness in the proceedings.
Bob Brown Foundation is challenging Minister Guy Barnett’s granting of an unnecessary mining lease to miner MMG in Tasmania’s takayna / Tarkine. The lease is along the controversial public Helilog road where our protests have been defending world heritage value rainforests and critical breeding habitat for the Tasmanian Masked Owl.
Minister Guy Barnett admitted his first issue of a licence in July 2021 was invalid. Minister Guy Barnett then granted another lease in January 2022. The Supreme Court has ordered all documents be produced that informed the new decision by the Minister via a personal affidavit by Mr Barnett.
Bob Brown Foundation has shut down MMG’s drill rig on the site of its proposed toxic heavy metals tailings dam because of alleged breaches by the company of undertakings given to the Federal Court last month. The drill rig arrived a couple of days ago and hasn’t been able to leave the middle of the road where we’ve halted it for two days with protests.
The undertaking that the company would not operate within 15 metres of a tree with a diameter of one metre or more was given to the court in lieu of an injunction sought by Bob Brown Foundation to protect Tasmanian Masked Owl ahead of reconsideration by the Federal Minister of EPBC permits granted for drilling and roading.
Bob Brown Foundation has documented 13 sites along Helilog Road where this undertaking has been breached between 24-29 July.
Tenisha Van Dam (20) has locked on to a drill rig to prevent continuation of the unlawful works.
“I am here in takayna because I know that once these trees come down there is no going back. Now is not the time to be complacent, we need action for Earth," said Tenisha Van Dam.
“Again this company has shown its disregard for Australia’s environmental laws, and in this case an undertaking it made to the court less than a month ago. They cannot be trusted in World Heritage value forests like takayna / Tarkine”, said Bob Brown Foundation takayna / Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
“If the Minister needed any more confirmation that this company should not hold environmental permits, it is now etched into the landscape”.
Bob Brown Foundation will be appearing in the Federal Court at 3.15 AEST today to seek that in light of MMG’s breach of its undertaking and associated court order an injunction be granted preventing works until the current challenge to the EPBC permit is resolved by the Federal Court. The hearing for this challenge is set down for 19 July.
Concurrently, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has indicated that a decision on the reconsideration will be unavailable until mid July at the earliest. The reconsideration was triggered by Bob Brown Foundation.
Dr Colette Harmsen, wildlife veterinarian, has been refused bail in Burnie night court. Dr Harmsen was arrested today protesting against the destruction by mining company MMG of Masked Owl breeding habitat in takayna / Tarkine today.
Dr Harmsen will appear before a magistrate tomorrow.
“Colette is a wonderful hero for the planet,” said Bob Brown.
Bob Brown Foundation and thousands of citizens have been protesting for the protection of Tasmania’s takayna / Tarkine from logging and mining for the past 8 years. In the past twelve months, the highly controversial proposal to dump heavy metals sludge into takayna rainforests for a new mining tailings waste dump has resulted in more than 85 people being arrested defending the forests.
Two women have been arrested today protesting and calling for protection of Tasmania’s takayna / Tarkine. Dr Colette Harmsen and Rose Sheehan were charged after halting a drill rig that arrived into forests threatened by mining company MMG’s proposal for a heavy metals tailings waste dump.
“It’s not good enough that we are losing such wild and biodiverse rainforests for the sake of a mining company’s profit. I grew up in lutruwita / Tasmania and was able to explore the forests and seas so I know what we are losing. I will stop at nothing to protect these beautiful forests regardless of the penalty for protesting. A fine or sentence will never outweigh my love and value for these forests and for the welfare of future generations,” Rose Sheehan said.
Dr Colette Harmsen has been held on remand in Burnie today after her arrest due to breaching bail conditions.
“I am defending takayna for the animals and the wildness. We are going to stop this corporation driven by greed. Our peaceful protest today halted the drill rig in the middle of Helilog Road among the critical breeding habitat of the Tasmanian Masked Owl.”
“Ever since I studied science at high school in the early 1990s, I have been acutely aware of climate change and the negative impacts humans are having on the environment and the lack of government action to respond to these impacts. Here we are 30 years later and nothing has changed. Governments are still refusing to act, industries are still given incentives to destroy wild places and pollute, and politicians do not look beyond the next election,” Colette Harmsen said.
“Citizens, including courageous Colette and Rose, are doing the work to protect wild places, intact nature and habitat for rare and endangered wildlife while governments fail to, and corporations continue their relentless destruction of the environment,” Jenny Weber, Bob Brown Foundation’s Campaign Manager said
The covert Legislative Council hearings for logging and mining executives on the anti-protester legislation, without other witnesses being told of the arrangement, requires a public explanation, former Tasmanian parliamentarian Bob Brown said today.
“It is unconscionable that MMG, for example, was offered this facility but community groups and individuals were not. Other witnesses were not told that MMG was eavesdropping on their testimony or that by special, secret arrangement, MMG was able to provide a point by point rebuttal of their testimony. In this fraudulent process, it appears that MMG’s covert response misled the members of parliament,” Brown claimed.
“MMG was able to make concocted, misleading and contestable claims about the forest defenders with no due opportunity for rebuttal. For example, MMG indicated to Councillors it had not polluted the Stitt River catchment near Its Rosebery mine even though this is manifestly false.”
“This is a very serious miscarriage of proper parliamentary procedure. Logging and mining corporations should not be given priority treatment over Tasmanian Aboriginal or other social or environmental interests in testimony to our parliament. The President of the Legislative Council must explain how this process went so wrong, take those who arranged it to task, and assure the public that it will not happen again.”
Yesterday, a Bob Brown Foundation protester climbed onto the mooring line of the Antarctic toothfish plunderer Antarctic Discovery and hung a banner on the vessel revealing its true nature as an Antarctic destroyer, not an Antarctic discoverer.
19-year-old Billie Raffety from the Huon Valley suspended herself from the vessel’s mooring line to protest the presence of the vessel in Hobart / nipaluna.
As is too often the case, this peaceful protest was met with aggression and dangerous responses from both TasPorts and the crew of the Australian Longline vessel, Antarctic Discovery.
Without warning or communication, the crew and TasPorts workers dropped the mooring line of the vessel with Billie, fully clothed and in heavy harnesses and with multiple ropes and equipment, into the freezing Hobart winter waters.
No effort was made by either TasPorts or the crew of the Australian Longline vessel to assist Billie who was breathing heavily from the shock of being dunked into the cold harbour.
“Our Police Liaison officer clearly explained to the TasPorts staff that it would be extremely dangerous to drop the mooring line as this would result in the potential entanglement of our volunteer if she was dropped into the water still attached to the line and surrounded by the ropes, rigging and hardware she had used to climb the mooring line,” said Bob Brown Foundation Antarctic campaigner Alistair Allan.
“One of the TasPorts workers was even heard asking, “What if she can’t swim?” This fundamental safety consideration was ignored, along with a whole range of other safety procedures that TasPorts must have around preventing a ‘person overboard’ scenario.”
“TasPorts staff did nothing to respond to this ‘person overboard’ situation. No life ring or floatation device was deployed, and no effort was made to offer any assistance to Billie who was in the cold water of the harbour, potentially entangled in rigging and ropes.”
“Fortunately, our boat was close at hand and managed to safely retrieve Billie from the water. She was extremely cold and shocked at the complete disregard shown for her safety by TasPorts staff and the crew of the Antarctic Discovery.”
Not only does Australian Longline show complete disregard for the health of the Antarctic ecosystem that they plunder, but it also turns out the public’s safety is of no consequence either.”
Bob Brown Foundation has filed an official statement with Tasmanian police regarding the reckless actions of both TasPorts and Australian Longline and has written to the CEOs of both organisations demanding an explanation for their dangerous behaviour.
Tasmania’s Parliament has rammed through harmful anti-protest legislation on behalf of the corporations destroying native forests, Australia’s largest temperate rainforest in takayna / Tarkine and the island’s oceans and rivers with toxic salmon factories.
“Tasmanians have been betrayed by their government who have put profit for Earth’s plunderers before people,” Bob Brown Foundation’s Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said.
“Passing the second reading phase in Tasmania’s Upper House, on a count of heads of those who support this draconian anti-protest law, it will pass in August,” Jenny Weber said.
“MMG’s owners in Beijing will be delighted. Tasmania’s anti-protest legislation, once it passes, is MMG’s Bill targeting Bob Brown Foundation. Parliamentarians were fed lies about our non-violent protests. In over three decades of environmental protests in Tasmania, there has never been an instance where an employee, contractor, protestor or member of the public has been injured due to protestor activity,” Jenny Weber said.
"Cathedral-like ancient rainforests, with many trees 500 and more years old and critical breeding habitat for the Tasmanian Masked Owl, will be flattened and covered in toxic mine-waste sludge if MMG’s proposed tailings dump is not halted in takayna / Tarkine. We are not going to stand back and let these important, stunning, ancient rainforests be destroyed. Our sustained disruption will continue until MMG leaves takayna / Tarkine,” Jenny Weber said.
“The legislators have yet to take sweeping action on climate and environmental protections. The viability of our little planet needs legislators' action immediately. Dangerously reckless governments in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW are passing legislation aimed to crush peaceful protestors. Draconian anti-protest laws will not work, as the window rapidly closes on securing a liveable planet, Earth’s defenders will continue their non-violent protests to hold back the Earth-destroying machines,” Jenny Weber said.
“A handful of elected members of Tasmania’s parliament stood up for the fundamental rights of all citizens to protest. Sadly something is rotten with governance, not environmentalism, in Tasmania,” Jenny Weber said.
This morning, a group of activists climbed onto the mooring line of the Antarctic toothfish plunderer, Antarctic Discovery and hung a banner on the vessel revealing its true nature as an Antarctic destroyer, not an Antarctic discoverer.
19-year-old Billie Raffety from the Huon Valley suspended herself from the vessel’s mooring line to protest the presence of the vessel in the supposed Antarctic gateway city of Hobart. Dock workers and vessel crew untied the line and dropped Billie Raffety into the water where she was picked up by the other activists involved in the protest.
The vessel, owned by Hobart-based Australian Longline, has just returned from smashing the sub-Antarctic toothfish populations off Australia’s World Heritage-listed Macquarie, Heard and McDonald Islands.
“This vessel, despite efforts to appear sustainable, is targeting a species that is sold as a “luxury” product. Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish is not a sustainable fishery providing food security to the globe. Rather, they are a status meal in five-star hotels and fancy restaurants, decimating a species we know little about,” said Bob Brown Foundation Antarctic Campaigner Alistair Allan.
“The toothfish industry touts their Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic operations as one of the world’s most regulated fisheries, but with most of the Earth’s fisheries in rapid decline or near collapse, we cannot trust that the toothfish is not destined for the same fate. This fish is red listed by NGOs due to its position as an apex predator and overfishing in the 80s and 90s. It is a fish we should not be pillaging.”
“The Antarctic Discovery, or rather, Antarctic Destroyer, is responsible for deep sea devastation and disturbance of the Southern Ocean. Australian Longline vessels can set as many as 60,000 hooks on tens of kilometres of lines. These skewers rake the delicate Southern Ocean ecosystem, catching anything in their path. Using 60,000 hooks in one of the world’s last wild places is obscene,” said Billie Raffety.
“Hobart claims to be an Antarctic custodian but how can this be when we allow such destructive vessels in our port? In a very short amount of time, industrial whaling and sealing took both species to the brink of extinction in the Antarctic. We cannot allow the same to happen to toothfish. The public has a right to know that Hobart is being used as a base for expanding the looting of the Antarctic,” said Alistair Allan.
Gold Coast based takayna defenders have joined with Bob Brown Foundation to protest at an investor forum in Surfer’s Paradise to send a message to investors that Venture Minerals' plans to mine in World Heritage Value rainforest in takayna / Tarkine is bad business. Venture Minerals is scheduled to pitch for investors at the Gold Coast Investment Showcase today.
Protestors have dogged Venture Minerals at investor forums in Noosa, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane over the past nine months. Protests have also disrupted exploration activities on the proposed mine site in Tasmania. Opposition to Venture Minerals projects was the subject of a 4 Corners episode in May.
“We are chasing this company across Australia to make sure that its spin and greenwash are exposed to potential investors, and every time we have turned up and spoke to investors the company’s share price has dropped. Truth has power," said Bob Brown Foundation takayna / Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
“People around the country have been joining with us in solidarity that the precious ancient World Heritage Value rainforest of takayna / Tarkine must not be destroyed for the short term profits of Venture Minerals."
“Until they abandon this folly, we will continue to take them on in the forests, in the board room and in the investor markets."