Thousands of Australians have rescued Australia's top Green politician, Senator Bob Brown, from a legal bill that would have bankrupted him. He ran up the bill defending his native Tasmania's magnificent old growth forests against logging.
In a note of thanks for donations to court costs he said the action against him was "typical of the pressure tactics used by the native forest logging industry".
Here's the text of a round-robin email from him:
"I received a letter from Forestry Tasmania threatening me with bankruptcy (which would disqualify me from serving in the Senate) if I failed to pay $240,000 in legal costs by 29 June 2009.
The legal bill arose when the full bench of the Federal Court overturned Justice Marshall’s finding (in my favour), that logging of Wielangta Forest should stop because it threatened endangered species like the Swift Parrot, Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle and the Wielangta Stag Beetle.
After serious consideration, I made the letter public.
Following an overwhelming public response, I am pleased to tell you I will be able to pay the bill by the deadline.
Donations of up to $20,000, for which I am extremely grateful, have been reported on the news. The unreported generous donations of $10, $20, $50, $100 and $500 — given by more than a thousand Australians from across the country — have also been essential and these donors have my enormous gratitude.
Here’s what some of the people who have donated have said in their letters and emails:
Susan from Port Macquarie donated $50, writing:
“I am both disgusted and horrified, but not surprised by the behaviour of the Tasmanian government relating to your court case legal bill. I would like to donate more, but at the moment I am able to offer $50 towards your legal bill. If it weren’t for you there’d be even less old growth forests in Tasmania than now and even more destruction.”
Tom from Albury donated $500, writing:
“I have visited Tasmania on several occasions and consider the plight of the forests to be nothing short of a national disgrace. Keep up the good work.”
Thanks to the generosity of thousands of people like Susan and Tom I will be able to pay Forestry Tasmania’s legal bill. But other forest defenders, such as the Gunns 20 and Triabunna 13, continue to face daunting legal procedures and costs. If you would like to help them or the ongoing campaign to protect native forests and endangered species you can do so by visiting www.on-trial.info.
This week's episode is typical of the pressure tactics used by the native forest logging industry. But it won't succeed. Like many others, I won't back off from defending Tasmania's magnificent forests and wildlife.
Everyone who offered support has my heartfelt thanks.
My best wishes,