Media Release February 22, 2023

A crowd of supporters gathered at the Taree courthouse today with signs, banners and song in support of three Bulga forest defenders. Each of the three received no conviction and a nine month good behaviour period. All had pleaded guilty to the offences of entering a prohibited forest and putting themselves in an unsafe situation.

Magistrate Allison Hawkins took into account their good character and the fact that the offences occurred on forestry land and had not been an inconvenience to the general public.

Aaron Crowe was the first case to be heard. He said he was pleasantly surprised by the outcome but it was bitter sweet, knowing the forests are still falling, and there is still much to do.

“If you care about our forests and all the animals that call them home then now’s the time, the forest needs you! If we don’t stop them they will sell every last tree that the fire didn’t get in order to fill their quota and you can kiss the greater glider, the koala, and many other national treasures goodbye.”

For Isla Lamont, the response was one of relief.

“It’s such a relief to have our voices actually heard without being punished. The climate crisis is so real and urgent that standing up to the madness that is destroying our native forests is the only thing to do. Today showed me who the real criminals are. The NSW Government and the Forestry Corporation need to act humanely now.”

Last to be heard was Susie Russell, who self-represented. She argued that hers was a minor offence and she should not be punished with such a long good-behaviour period, but the magistrate disagreed.

“’While it is a relief that none of us today had convictions recorded, it is frustrating that we were the ones on trial, when the real criminals are the NSW Government and the Forestry Corporation, who are closing the forests to public scrutiny and criminalising protest.

“There is no doubt that most people want the logging to stop and the forests protected. We are definitely on the right side of history. Our concern is that so much damage will have been done before the politicians take that decision, that we will have a cascade of problems that could have been averted. Much like what is happening with climate change. Two decades of inaction means the impacts will be far worse.