Why?

16 12 2007

Much excitement in town the other day. I popped in to see a friend and she asked excitedly if I’d been in to town yet, or heard the news on the radio. I hadn’t done either, so she told me that some protesters had stopped a logging truck in the middle of the main street and chained themselves to it.

To put that in to perspective, Bridgetown is cut in two by South West Highway which runs from Perth to Bunbury, then on down through Donnybrook, Bridgetown, Manjimup, etc. to Albany. Manjimup is the heart of timber country and over the years logging protesters have done some interesting stunts to prevent the logging of old growth forests. As a result, old growth logging has almost stopped, and most timber logged in the area is plantation timber. Manjimup was hit very hard economically with the closure of many of the timber-related industries and a massive loss of jobs, and is only now starting to get back on its feet (truffles at $3000 a kilo anyone?). Other towns in the region were also hit hard. Personally, I supported the move to stop logging old growth forests as many of these ancient trees only grow in this part of the world and their species and related ecosystems are under threat both from logging, agriculture, and development. I have no problem with growing and logging plantation timbers, especially on land previously cleared for farming.

Anyhow, back to the other day… It seems these protesters had dressed up as road workers, erected some bogus “Roadworks ahead—prepare to stop” signs, then someone with a ‘lollipop’ “Stop/Slow” sign stopped a truck outside the video store. (The double-bogey log trucks all go through the town’s main street, but that’s another issue…)

Once they stopped the truck (which appeared to me to be carrying pine logs, not jarrah, marri, or karri), they chained themselves to the axle or somewhere underneath the truck.

It seems this happened around 8:30am. By the time I was in town, it was 11:30am and the truck and the chained protesters were still there. Traffic was slowed to a crawl through town, some 15-18 police were in attendance from other towns in the region, an ambulance was in attendance, as were other emergency and shire workers. Oh, and the local media from Bunbury were there too.

I’m not sure when the protesters were cut from the truck, but the statewide regional TV News had footage that night (the butcher cynically said that the police wouldn’t cut them off until the media got there…). And when I drove past, some enterprising local had painted another sign—”Slow protesters—Stop the dole!” (or something like that).

So my question is “why?” What did these protesters hope to achieve? Fame? Notoriety? A spot on the TV News? People like me writing a blog post? Arrest? Well, they got most of that, but as a local I have NO idea what they were protesting about—the logging industry, the trucks going through town, or something else. They were arrested and charged with creating a public disturbance or somesuch. They got their pictures on TV, just reinforcing the ‘rent-a-feral’ image many people have of them. I still  don’t know what their cause was, so they didn’t achieve their aim of getting their message across.

More importantly, they tied up the emergency and security resources of people across the region, thus placing others at risk. The local police station would be lucky to have three officers, I’d suspect, so the other police had to come from somewhere—Manjimup, Donnybrook, Nannup?, Bunbury? The local ambulance was in attendance, so it and its volunteer staff were out of action for other work for those hours.

There’s talk of charging the idiots who set off flares up north last week for the $200K cost of sending out the search and rescue boats, helicopters etc. These protesters should also be responsible for the costs of wasting police, ambulance and other emergency services time and efforts.

There have to be other ways of protesting and getting your message out.


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One response

7 08 2008
Rhonda

Its hard to watch trees (pines or othes being cut down along with the Owls homes & all other wildlife that exists in the woods (SC, USA), all just so the landowner can have pastureland, which as we now know contributes to global warming with the Methane gases.
Oh how I ache!!!!!!!!!!!!

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