Hunger strike raises hackles
WHILE a Cooma district farmer goes on a hunger strike, 20 people from the Northern Rivers are on their way south to support his one-man protest.
Goonellabah resident Jimmy Harvie, a former farmer himself, sympathises with the plight of 57-year-old farmer Peter Spencer, of Shannons Flat in southern NSW, now in a weakened condition after his more than month-long hunger strike.
Mr Spencer is protesting a Federal Government decision to turn his property into a carbon sink under the Kyoto Protocol, preventing him from clearing his land for agricultural work.
He has been suspended on a platform up a wind monitoring tower on his farm since starting his protest on November 23.
“We hope to get this man off his protest tripod,” Mr Harvie said. “We want to save his life and let him tell us what he wants to do with the rest of his property.”
Mr Harvie said Mr Spencer hadn’t been allowed to work 22,000 acres of his farm due to the Federal Government’s decision to turn 1.9 million acres in the area into a carbon sink, virtually rendering the farmer bankrupt.
“He’s had mortgage on top of mortgage,” he said. “He’s deteriorating, but is greatly buoyed in spirit by the support he’s received from others.”
Mr Harvie and other local supporters boarded a mini-bus bound for Canberra and Cooma yesterday morning in a co-ordinated effort with others around NSW to help end Mr Spencer’s hunger strike.
Mr Harvie said there were plenty more from around the region supporting their efforts.
“I’ve had more than a thousand phone calls in three days wishing us well,” he said.
Anne Thompson, of Eltham, said the plan was to arrive in Canberra late last night before meeting Government officials at 10.30amtoday. From there they will travel to the Shannons Flat property to meet Mr Spencer.