FOREST workers and duck hunters will be protected from protesters under legislation at present before the Victorian Parliament.
The Sustainable Forests (Timber) and Wildlife Amendment Bill 2013 seeks to ensure the safety of legitimate forest workers and duck hunters along with the safety of protesters and the general public.
The member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, spoke in support on the bill which passed the lower house on Thursday.
“This bill enables the legal harvesting of timber, it protects the legal harvesting of timber and the legal hunting of ducks,” Dr Sykes said.
“In doing so, the bill seeks to ensure the safety of the harvesters, the hunters, members of the public, protesters and also those who are involved in enforcing the legislation.
“Forestry operators and duck hunters should be able to pursue their lawful commercial operations and recreational pursuits without disruption, intimidation, interference or risk to their own safety.”
Dr Sykes said the Government supports the sustainable use of our resources including the harvesting of our native and commercial forests.
He said that he understood less than one per cent of native forests are part of a sustainable forestry harvesting and management plan and that much of the forest referred to as old-growth forest is in fact regrowth forest following the 1939 bushfires.
The impact of four mega-fires over the past decade is far greater than the claimed impact of sustainable harvesting.
“Similarly the government supports duck hunting by licensed, responsible hunters,” Dr Sykes said.
“Whilst it is important to put in place legislation to protect people in their legitimate activities, there is a saying that you cannot legislate for co-operation.
“Therefore it is important that we take an educative approach, which groups such as the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and Field and Game Australia are doing.
“We hope that the same approach would be taken by people who choose to protest.”