BERMAGUI STATE FOREST LOGGING PROTESTS
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
I direct my question to the Minister for Police. Did officers stationed at Batemans Bay police station in collaboration with Forests New South Wales hold a meeting at the Bermagui Country Club in September to warn locals associated with calling for forest protection not to protest when logging commenced in the Bermagui State Forest? Does the holding of this meeting reflect that Batemans Bay police officers have adopted a zero tolerance policing approach to forest protesters? Considering that since logging started in Bermagui State Forest on 27 October with a group of about 40 protesters gathered in the vicinity, about 15 police cars, more than 20 police, including members of the Public Order and Riot Squad, a mobile police command bus and two police rescue vans have been in attendance, will this level of policing continue for the coming six weeks of logging in this area? What is the anticipated cost of this operation?
The Hon. TONY KELLY:
The Far South Coast Local Area Command of the New South Wales Police Force has been advised that New South Wales Forests is to commence logging compartments of Bermagui State Forest later this month. As in the past, protests are expected. As always, the New South Wales Police Force is committed to maintaining public order. For this reason, local police and various commands, including the Public Order and Riot Squad, Highway Patrol and Rescue Squad will join together to conduct an operation. This operation will focus on ensuring the protection of persons engaged in lawful activities. Local police have made it clear that anyone engaging in unlawful or dangerous activity in or near the logging operation will have action taken against them. When offences continue and are considered dangerous, police will arrest and charge people as necessary. Police respect people's rights to protest during these times; in no way are they looking to prevent lawful and peaceful protests. Police have asked anyone who intends to protest to contact them so that they can attempt to facilitate lawful activity, minimise disruption and focus on protecting the safety of everyone involved.