Protest cost put at $25,000

THE state government says protest action in a North-West forest ‘‘crossed the line’’ and has cost the taxpayer more than $25,000.

Another activist has been arrested under the state’s anti-protest laws at the Lapoinya logging site, and Resources Minister Paul Harriss said on Thursday that the ongoing action had used up 413 hours of police time.

‘‘To date, these alleged invasions have resulted in harvesting operations at Lapoinya being suspended for about one and a half days, affecting 11 workers and contractors and costing more than $12,500,’’ Mr Harriss said.

He said the right to free speech came with responsibilities.

‘‘I’m sure that most Tasmanians agree that when you invade a workplace and stop people earning a legitimate living, you have crossed the line,’’ he said.

‘‘Our workplace protection laws strike the right balance.’’

Meanwhile, Bass Greens MHA Andrea Dawkins has written to the Forest Stewardship Council alerting it to the action at Lapoinya. 

Forestry Tasmania is yet to receive FSC certification, and Ms Dawkins says the state-owned logging company ‘‘has no interest in obtaining a social licence’’ or looking after the environment for the local community at Lapoinya.

‘‘The profound sense of loss the community are experiencing over the logging of their special place is almost overshadowed by their despair over the destruction of habitat of the endangered flora and fauna in the forest,’’ the letter said. ‘‘The Tasmanian government privately indicates it has no interest in obtaining FSC for Forestry Tasmania, whilst publicly proclaiming it is building a viable case for accreditation.’’

Last month  Forestry Tasmania said the Lapoinya logging was consistent with its commitment to operate in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible manner. The company said it was confident that the logging met the requirements of its existing Australian Forestry Standard certification and bid for FSC certification.