Bob Brown launches legal challenge to native forest logging in Tasmania

State-sanctioned felling is ‘based on a monumental lie’, former Greens leader says.

The former Greens leader Bob Brown has launched a legal challenge to native forest logging in Tasmania, claiming it is inconsistent with federal environment law.

The case by the Bob Brown Foundation, lodged in the federal court on Thursday, challenges what has been seen as an effective exemption from environment laws granted to state-sanctioned logging under regional forest agreements between Canberra and the states.

It argues the Tasmanian regional forest agreement is not valid as it lacks a legally enforceable requirement that the state must protect threatened species.

The foundation says if the case were successful it would consider similar action against federal-state forest agreements in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. It said the current rules “essentially allows the state government to make up the rules as it suits, and gives no guaranteed protection for our wildlife and environment”.

Brown said the foundation had been buoyed by a landmark federal court judgment in May that found logging in Victoria’s central highlands by the state-owned agency VicForests was in breach of a regional forest agreement.

“This is a huge undertaking for us but everyone knows that the flattening and burning of native forests and wildlife is not ecologically sustainable,” Brown said. “The industry is based on a monumental lie and this challenge puts that lie to the test.”

The foundation says the Tasmanian forest agreement differs from Victorian agreements as it allows the island’s state government to change forestry laws, codes and management plans without input from the federal government. Roland Browne, the foundation’s lawyer, said their case was “that this is not good enough”.


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