Home after land-clearing protest
WEARY North Coast protesters returned home from Canberra yesterday after a non-stop 48-hour trip – ready to continue their fight against the Federal and state governments over land-clearing restrictions.
A busload of Northern Rivers supporters joined a convoy of cars from Coffs Harbour, which travelled to Monday’s rally outside Parliament House in Canberra. A smaller group later travelled by four-wheel-drive vehicles to the Monaro property of hunger-striking grazier Peter Spencer.
About 300 angry protesters from across NSW and interstate gathered to demand compensation for state land-clearing restrictions that are helping Australia meet its international carbon emission targets.
Speaking from a truck stop on the Pacific Highway, Anne Thompson, of Eltham, said she spoke to Mr Spencer and talked about what he was doing and what it would take for him to end his protest. “I asked him if Rudd came to see him would he still come down – and he said no,” Mrs Thompson said.
“He told me he didn’t want to see Mr Rudd any more.
“He said he would now remain until Mr Rudd changed the Constitution so that farmers could be compensated properly for land that has been taken from them.
“The point of the trip was to support Peter, which we did.
“It was an excellent rally and the speeches were very sympathetic and emotional, especially Senator Barnaby Joyce and Peter’s daughter, Sarah.”
Mrs Thompson said Mr Spencer was in good spirits, though his health was starting to fail as he entered the 45th day of his hunger strike.
Fellow protester Jeanette Jones, from Coffs Harbour, said Mr Spencer was very lucid and very strong in his resolve. “Peter is our living mast flag. We have the upmost respect for him. The Government ministers only want him down so the problem will go away,” she said.
Farmers estimate the imposed restrictions are worth $100 billion and effectively represent a government land-grab and a constitutional violation of their rights. Peter Spencer has been fasting after more than a decade of failed court action following the introduction of the 1997 Native Vegetation Act.