23 February 2017
Orbost Magistrates Court today dismissed charges against Edward Hill and Joseph Henderson, two community members from Goongerah Environment Centre, who entered a logging area in 2015 to document and report rainforest logging to the Environment Department.
Instead of prosecuting VicForests over the incident, described by the Minister as ‘very poor practice’, the government launched a prosecution against those who reported it.
The dismissal of these charges has proven this to be an unmeritorious prosecution, the Government should focus its compliance functions on the very real threat to threatened species posed by logging operations in our public forests rather than shooting the messenger with prosecutions against whistle-blowers who report on these operations”, said Danya Jacobs, lawyer from Environmental Justice Australia, who acted in the matter.
We are yet to see a single prosecution from the Andrews Government against VicForests for its logging practices that have been subject of hundreds of community reports of threatened and protected species, said Ms Jacobs.
Yet they are content to spend 2 years and considerable taxpayers’ money investigating and prosecuting those who report these operations in the public interest, said Ms Jacobs.
The Senior Forestry Compliance Officer admitted in evidence today that he could not identify rainforest species and did not know whether rainforest was protected by law in Victoria, said Ms Jacobs.