The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) welcome the NSW Government’s inclusion of forestry and forest product processing operations in its new laws to crack down on farm invasions, mirroring the recent inclusion by the Federal Government in its similar regulation.
Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Ross Hampton, said the inclusion of forestry in both Federal and proposed State law, rightly recognises that forestry and forest product processing operations on private and public land are carried out in a completely sustainable and legal manner, just like other sectors of the rural economy.
Mr Hampton said, “Forestry operators have enormous empathy for our farmers who are finding at times that groups of poorly informed activists are not just making their views heard at the gate, but actually invading legitimate workplaces. Our shared concern comes from the fact that our sector has been dealing with this for decades. Small numbers of people, who usually live nowhere near the forestry operation, have been disrupting legitimate forestry work by aggressively invading harvest and regeneration sites.”
General Manager of AFCA, Stacey Gardiner, said, “This has had at times disastrous financial and emotional consequences for our businesses, many of whom are small rural businesses that are family run. They deserve the right to have their operations and livelihoods protected especially given that Australia has some of the most sustainable, highly regulated forestry practices in the world. Particularly when every stick of timber from public native forest is certified to the world’s largest global standard called Responsible Wood (under PEFC).”
Mr Hampton said, “The NSW Bill, if passed by the Upper House, will seek to prevent deliberate trespass through clear boundaries for the purposes of damaging the rural operation. This Bill will support the already enacted Federal laws which cover the use of carriage services to promote, incite and organise an invasion of a rural workplace. We all, of course, respect the right of any individual to engage in protests and make their views known. All we are saying is that this activity should not disrupt another Australian’s legitimate work, which is being carried out in a sustainable and legal fashion to put food on their family’s table.”