A Conversation for Goongerah, Victoria, Australia


Post 1


It's a real shame that when I browse the BBC website for entries on Australia - a site where I would expect to find quality information -prominent is this rubbish about Goongerah.

This so called 'close knit' community largely comprises a bunch of misfits who seek to impose their twisted logic and addled values on the rest of the community.

The debate over forests in East Gippsland is not an environmental debate - it is about culture and values. Despite the lies of the author of the Goongerah posting, there is no 'deforestation' going on. A portion of the region's forests are harvested and in all cases strict attention is paid to ensuring a new forest stand is regenerated. Of course the values associated with mature forest are locally temporarily lost in the harvesting operation, but in the aggregate, the region's forests are pretty healthy. The main environmental risks that do exist are created by weeds and pest animals escaping from places like Goongerah! At the landscape scale, all the values that were present prior to the development of forestry remain. A high proportion of the forests are protected in national parks and other reserves which are designed to best target the key conservation values of the region.

Australian eucalypt forests are robust and well adapted to disturbance. The bushfires that are characteristic of Australian summers, lit by Aborigines or lightning, have been 'destroying' these forests for more than 40,000 years. These fires create as much if not more disturbance than carefully planned and managed logging operations, yet the forest adapts and recovers.

The worst part of the Goongerah world view is that it dresses itself up in a cloak of sanctimony, but it is really about protecting Jill Redwood's back yard. But her every victory is at the cost of another back yard, because demand for forest products is not declining. Whenever Australian governments accede to the demands of the residents of Goongerah, someone else's forests are logged to meet the demand. Where are these forests? In the developing world of course: places like Indonesia and PNG. Here communities and governments have much less capacity to ensure forest harvesting is conducted in a sustainable way than rich countries like Australia. In any other context, the practice of a rich country exploiting the resources of a poor country would be called colonialism. For as long as Australians use forest products, it should in the first instance seek to use and husband its own forest resources, rather than displace its demand onto the weak and unaccountable.

In the Goongerah posting, the anti logging protesters are portrayed as saviours of the forest. As the author notes, much of the protest 'labour' is provided by students. Is there anyone more idealistic, more gullible, more easily (mis)led and with more spare time on their hands than a first or second year university student? Each year they go to Goongerah to do their bit to save the forests but mostly they grow up and go on to become stockbrokers, doctors, public servants and the like and learn that life is a bit more complex than it seemed from the perspective of Goongerah. Perhaps Peter Pan lives at Goongerah for it seems populated by people who have never grown up.

At the core of the protests are a handful of hard cases. These are the professionals who accept payment from various sources to set up their tree sits and to chain themselves to machinery and to hurl vile abuse at the forestry workers who lose income because of their antics. It is people of this ilk who spike the trees, creating hazards for fallers and sawmill operators, or who sabotage logging machinery. The post is correct that protests are mainly non-violent, but this is more a commentary on the discipline of forestry workers than on the protesters, who would like nothing more than to provoke violence so as to gain coverage on the television news. Unless their 'non-violent' protest become violent, they are quite correctly ignored.

The forests debate is about culture and values because it is about a small group of people who lack respect for democratic process and their fellow citizens. Instead of gaining political support for their cause through sound argument and leadership in the community, they prey on forest workers who play no part in establishing forest policy, but seek only to feed themselves and their families. They seek to impose their addled world view on the wider community through bullying and lies. Their policy analysis is limited to what might be printed on a bumper sticker. They ask a lot of the wider world (not least of which are social security payments for there is more or less no real work at Goongerah), yet give nothing back. Goongerah might well be the most selfish community in Australia.

Goongerah needs to be a close knit community. Nobody with any brains will have anything to do with it.


Post 2

aka Bel - A87832164

smiley - bigeyes

I'm not quitew sure which article you read, from what I can see, the author didn't say any of the things you accuse him of.
I'm sure he'll reply to you in a much more eloquent way than I could do though, because he has done the researches.


Post 3


I can't be bothered really. Obviously someone has a bee in their bonnet, and they're free to share their opinion about the community. It's nice to see some feedback, even if it is presented so rudely.

My memories of Goongerah may be through the rose-coloured glasses of a child however, and not a staunch political demonstrator - so for that I apologise.

If the content is all 'rubbish' and 'lies' though, I welcome an Update of the Entry to improve it. But I doubt that will happen.


Post 4

aka Bel - A87832164

I guess you're right. The commentator's interpretation of what you actually wrote is somehwat surprising, which is why I wondered if they actually read your entry.


Post 5


I dare say they read it, but only the words they wanted to smiley - winkeye


Post 6


Of course I read it! I guess my key point is that the Goongerah community is not some sort of benign sleepy hollow, but represents the dark side of forest policy in Australia. The article got up my nose. I'm sorry if you thought it rude.


Post 7


Like I said, I remember the place from my youth in the 1970s. It appears things may have changed smiley - sadface

And again, as I said, if you want to write something about the politics surrounding Goongerah now, I'm more than happy for it to be added to the Entry to give it a more up to date balance smiley - ok

But I'm wary of opinion, not facts, creeping in smiley - winkeye

There's no hard and fast rule that says you can't change what's contained in the Entry and add more to it smiley - smiley

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