Grannies’ protest ‘shameful’

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Perth great-grandmother Ruth Carlsson, who turns 91 next month, fronts Tuesday morning's protest.
Camera IconPerth great-grandmother Ruth Carlsson, who turns 91 next month, fronts Tuesday morning's protest. Credit: Supplied

Forest industry workers have panned Tuesday’s mass protest by anti-logging grandmother activists as an illegal publicity stunt.

After seven elderly Margaret River women staged a similar protest at McCorkhill Forest last month, a group of about 40 self-described “grannies” blocked roads and Forest Products Association operations at Helms Forest this week.

WA Police attended, but said no charges were laid for the disruption and there were “no issues”.

But Forest Industries Federation of WA executive director Melissa Haslam said the protest was “an unfair and unnecessary way of seeking attention, disrupting legal and sustainable logging operations”.

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The protest, co-ordinated by the WA Forest Alliance, was designed to put pressure on the WA Government to address alleged unsustainable logging practices ahead of the March election.

Ms Haslam said family-owned logging contractors were forced to stop for three hours because of illegal road closures for the sake of “a shameful publicity stunt”. “It shows a complete lack of regard for a family-owned business that contributes to the local economy and supports the local community,” Ms Haslam said.

“It is obvious that this is a publicity stunt leading up to the State election.”

A Forest Alliance media statement said the protesting grandmothers came from across the South West and Perth to highlight unsustainable logging for the sake of future generations.

The women set up a small camp site, knitting, reading, sketching, making tea, and writing letters to Premier Mark McGowan. They also demanded an in-person meeting with Forestry Minister Dave Kelly and Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

Perth resident Ruth Carlsson, 90, pictured, attended with her daughter to protest groundwater risks from native logging.

“I don’t see things getting any better across the world though, so who is listening?” she said. “We have only got to look at the dryness in our State to realise the danger ahead if we don’t take action now.”

The Forest Alliance said the women were “tired of the same old spin” from the Government on the wasteful and loss-making FPC.

“The women say they want an end to the logging of all native forests in the State,” a spokeswoman said.

“They say that the scientific evidence, and what they can see with their own eyes, is damning of the logging industry, which has continued despite the role of protected forests in climate control having been understood for a long time.”

Protesters said police threatened to impound vehicles and arrest them when the activists “bunkered down”, but the incident ended peacefully.

Ms Haslam said Helms logs were processed at Nannup, with waste materials used for lesser quality products “to ensure ... the entirety of the resource is used”.

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