Nick Higginbottom with AAP
Herald-Sun, November 03, 2006
Two protesters have been charged with public nuisance after chaining themselves to a logging truck that was "hijacked" by a group of environmentalists today. Lauren Caulfield, 25, from Brunswick and a 29-year-old Goongerha man were arrested this morning and will be summonsed to appear at the County Court at a later date. They were part of a demonstration that blocked part of normally busy Swan St in Richmond to stop a logging truck carrying timber to a Geelong woodchip mill, about 4am. They were cut free by police almost five hours later.
Truck driver Steven Reed from Warburton, east of Melbourne, said he stopped his truck when he saw a car that appeared broken down. "I sort of had to slow down to a stop, then I noticed there were people on the footpath. They came running out and everybody went around the truck," he told ABC radio. Mr Reed said he was annoyed at the protest and he considered running the group of protesters over. "I would have loved to have but you can't do it. I don't feel like getting charged with manslaughter at four o'clock in the morning for something I am not really in control of," he said.
A joint media release from Friends of the Earth and the Australian Student Environment Network said the group of about 20 protesters had "hijacked" the truck in protest at the logging of old growth forests in Victoria. Speaking to Southern Cross Broadcasting from the back of a police divisional van after her arrest, Ms Caulfield said Victorian Premier Steve Bracks had failed to act to protect the state's forests. "Obviously, this is a very, very serious issue and it is a real shame that Victorians have to get out there on the streets and get into this kind of situation in order to send such a strong message to government," Ms Caulfield said.
Greens leader Senator Bob Brown said the alleged protesters represented majority public opinion. "Every day of the week, Victoria's high conservation value forests are being hijacked by the Bracks government," he said. However Premier Steve Bracks was critical of the demonstration. "I don't believe it is an appropriate way to present your views," said Mr Bracks.