Protesters have gathered outside Prime Minister Albanese’s office as part of an Australia-wide push to exit native forest harvesting.
Hundreds gathered in the seat of Grayndler in Marrickville inner-city Sydney, holding signs demanding that the Prime Minister “do better.”
The Prime Minister is one of several Labor politicians holding inner-city seats in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
NSW Greens MP and environment spokesperson Sue Higginson said the mood in Marrickville was “absolutely electric.”
“I feel we are on the brink of change,” she said.
In May, Sue Higginson brought a bill to NSW Parliament that would stop forestry operations from occurring in areas that are koala habitats.
According to Higgonson, “This is just one piece of our campaign to end native forest logging in NSW finally.”
Native forestry and land clearing have become hot-button politics for the government, with the left wing of the Australian Labor Party pushing to address the vote leakage to the Greens.
Outside the Prime Minister’s electoral office, chants of “save the forests” could be heard among whistles, drum beats and cheers.
Organised by the Bob Brown Foundation, the protesters were held across most capital cities and drew 5000 demonstrators.
“Australia is on the move. Native Forest logging is finished. C’mon Albo, C’mon,” the Foundation posted online.
The NCA Newswire reports that the Saturday demonstrations occurred in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Hobart.
Demonstrators will gather in Brisbane next week (August 19) at Musgrave Park to coincide with the final day of the ALP National Conference.
The largest demonstration occurred in Hobart, where 1500 protesters descended on Hobart City Hall.
Former Greens Leader Bob Brown received a standing ovation, calling on the Albanese Government to ‘immediately end native logging’ and said the Foundation plans to escalate its campaign in the coming months.
The Mercury reported that a prisoner, jailed for trespass, breach of bail, and wilfully obstructing the use of a road, phoned into the rally.
Colette Harmsen is serving a three-month term of imprisonment at the Mary Hutchinson Women’s Prison at Risdon, said she was at the rally in spirit.
Dr Harmsen, a veterinarian, received thunderous applause from demonstrators.
“My message is let’s take it to the politicians, let’s take it to everyone in Australia and demand an end to native forest logging.”
In Victoria, Greens Senator Janet Rice addressed hundreds of people rallying in Melbourne.
As reported by Wood Central, the Victorian Government accelerated the state forest closure, bringing native timber harvesting to close in 2024.
This decision accelerated the original plan announced by the Andrews government in 2019, which targeted phasing out harvesting by 2030.
The move has divided the Australian Labor Party – with three federal MPs voicing disapproval over the accelerated timeframe.
“I want you to feel the threat from 50 years of protesting that has led to the end of native forest logging in Victoria,” Senator Rice said.
“Let’s bring it home; let’s end native forest logging across the country – forever. “
The rallies marked the third day of protest led by the Bob Brown Foundation.
Jenny Weber, the Bob Brown Foundation Campaign Manager, organised the demonstrations.
Wood Central reports that demonstrations also included regional communities connected to native forests – including Lismore, Ulladulla and Albury.
On Thursday, protesters took to harvested areas across the NSW coastline as part of a “forest action”.
Two “tree-sitters” set up camp in the Currawon and Shallow Crossing state forests near Ulladulla.
In a statement, the Brooman State Forest Group said protesters had been able to halt logging operations.
“Activists climbed 20m above the ground to occupy a tree-sit connected to logging machinery in each compartment,” they said.
“This is the second time in six months that protests in Shallow Crossing have halted logging operations.”
Local news reported seeing as many as 40 protesters gathering outside the Monaro MP’s office on Friday.
The demonstrations have the support of the Wilderness Society.
In Hobart, Wilderness Society campaign manager Tom Allen read a poem asking people to send “love and solidarity” to the people of Maui – where at least 67 people have died in wildfires.
Lenny, a protester who climbed 20m up a cable logger, told the rally that native logging threatened the culture of Indigenous Australians.
She told of the “tense and very stressful” occupation of the logger over two days before she was arrested.
“I am one of many willing to put my body, time and resources on the line,” Lenny said.
According to Ms Weber, the Foundation is planning larger demonstrations for March 2024.