Chronology of Key Events
Chronology of Key Events for Ending Native Forest Logging in the Otways
1995 - 2008

Defining, Identifying and Protecting Old-growth Forest in Victoria
by Trevor Poulton 2006

Common Position Statement

Common Position Statement for the Otways 12/2/2002

OREN's Truces

Docs ORENs contentious coupes strategy

ALP ORIG Documents


Socialist Left News-June_2001

Proposed Timber Industry Reform Package 17/02/2000


ALP_Branch motions_2001

ALP 2002 Forests and National Parks election policy

Miscellaneous Documents

ALP members seek an end to Otways logging The Age 9/12/01

Dissent grows in ALP over Otways The Age 21/04/01


ORENs Evaluation of West Region CRA 13/09/1999


Otway Ranges Walk Track Association documents

Protesters sue loggers trade union

Sparks threaten to ignite The Age 27/04/01

Trouble in Paradise The Age 1999

Writ Wilderness Society 2000

Hydrology Study

Hydrology Study Election policy 1999

Hydrology Report Part 1

Hydrology Report Part 2

Hydrology Report Part 3

Government Documents

CAR  Reserve System Criteria


vic west CRA volume 1

vic west CRA volume 2

VEAC Angahook-Otways Notice

VEAC Recommendations

Forest Rally

Rally 18/5/02

2002 Victorian Election

Unions split on support of Greens The Age_27/11/02

OREN electionflyer2002 endorsing ALP

ALP accused on polling The Age 16/11/2002

ALP 2002 Forests and National Parks
election policy

2001 Federal Election

Federal election articles Otways

Winning Corangamite 04/10/01


ACF submission re:VicForests September 2003

ACFs Marsden Jacob Report

ALP Forest Working Party letter re: VicForests 15/09/2003 

Draft Delivering Sustainable Forest Management Directions Paper 31/7/2003

FOE response to VicForests 16/09/2003






VEAC_Information Booklet



West Victoria Regional Forest Agreement
Signed March 2000

Sustainable Yield Report
Professor Vanclay & Dr Turner 31/10/2001


Letter to the Government
All that is Needed is Political Will

Finishing the Job
The Political Solution to the Otways

Poll Results
69% of Corangamite Electorate Oppose Clearfell Logging
(Read the Irving Saulwick & Associates Poll)

Candidate Backs Poll
ALP Candidate Michael Bjork-Billings Makes a Stand: "Forest Votes the Key" Geelong Advertiser 27th October 2001

ALP Branches Have
their Say

30 ALP Branches Vote to End Clearfell Logging of the Otways

Head of Forest Union at Loggerheads
with Community

Community Offers Union Jobs Solution - see Geelong Advertiser 29th October 2001

Legal Analysis
Ending Department of Natural Resources and Environment's Residual
Log Licences


Australian Labor Party

CFMEU Forestry Division

Otway Ranges Environment Network

Geelong Community Forum

Plantation Alternative

Department of Sustainability and
Environment (DSE)

ALP Conservation & Environment Policy 2000


We welcome your suggestions and comments

Please include your
ALP Branch and any elected position you
may hold in the Party


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Ending Native Forest Logging in the Otways: Chronology of Key Events

1995 - 2008

Compiled by Trevor Poulton of ALP Otway Ranges Interest Group (ALP ORIG) October 2008

 CLICK ON: Chronology of Key Events  for complete Chronology (73 pages)

In fulfilment of the state Labor governments election policy, Forests and National Parks (2002), parliament passed legislation on 15 September, 2005 establishing the Great Otway National Park (102,000 ha) and the Otway Forest Park (40,000 ha).  The legislation also heralded the end to all native forest logging on public land in the Otway Forest Management Area.

The policy provided for a timeframe for ending logging outside of the new national park, not based on a transition to plantations which would have taken decades, but on the expiry of hardwood timber logging licences by June 2008.

The Otways forest policy represented a wonderful win for the public and for the environment movement. The time was historically ripe for the forest policy statement which not only addressed the Otways, but also promised an end to wood chipping in Wombat State Forest, and a VEAC Investigation into the future of Goolengook Forest Management Block.

Since the commencement in 1995 of the Commonwealth-State Regional Forest Agreement process, the Otways had become a logical flash point for the environment movement to challenge the state governments ecological forest management credentials - the Otways is close to Melbourne, the area is internationally recognised for its natural assets, it brings in over a billion dollars per annum through tourism, and its water supply catchments service over a quarter of a million people.

Ending native forest logging in the Otways: Chronology of Key Events 1995-2008 is intended to capture key events of the campaign.

Geelong Environment Council Inc boosted community passion for saving the Otway forests with its Proposal for the Extension of the Otway National Park (1995) to increase protection for the regions cool temperate rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and a whole range of habitat for the Tiger Quoll, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Powerful Owl, Australian King Parrot, River Blackfish and the list goes on. The Otway Ranges Walking Track Association encapsulated tourism potential of the Otway Ranges beyond the Great Ocean Road with its proposed Trans-Otway Walk leading to ten waterfalls, and weaving its way through rainforest and magnificent valley forest in the Mid-Cumberland, Kennett, Carisbrook, Upper Smythes and Wild Dog Valleys, connecting Lorne to Apollo Bay by foot.

Politically inspired groups such as the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN) and Geelong Community Forum (GCF) mobilised to highlight deficiencies in the Department for Natural Resources and Environments (DNRE, now DSE) forest management practices and policies that put the interests of the timber industry above that of many other stakeholders including conservation groups, tourism operators and water catchment authorities. They impressed local government with presentations at council meetings leading to several councils in the Geelong-Colac region passing motions reflecting concern over clearfell logging, particularly in the water catchments.

Direct action groups such as Future Rescue bravely confronted the machinery of the timber industry, drawing media attention to the devastating impacts of industrial logging. The Department was continually being frustrated by aerial forest blockades using ropes, platforms, pulleys, and climbing equipment, sometimes creating tree villages in the canopy.

Doctors for Native Forests contributed with picnic tours of forest areas, as well as constructing walking tracks and obstinately re-constructing them after they had been undone by the Department.

Small business in towns and hamlets along the Surf Coast later joined the movement to assert a long term vision for the Otways centred on tourism that would guarantee greater employment opportunities and economic growth for the region.

Political groups such as the Australian Democracts and the Greens Party mobilised with regular media releases and election policies to protect the Otways. Liberals for Forests stood candidates at State and Federal elections to give prominence to the issue amongst conservative voters.

The Labor Party, which took government from the Liberals in 1999, also found itself under intense internal pressure from grassroots members, with the establishment of the ALP Otway Ranges Interest Group (ALP ORIG). The groups stated objective was to end logging of the Otways by 2002. ALP ORIG garnered support for the campaign by getting up motions at 30 ALP Branches calling for an end to clearfell logging of the Otways, participated on ALP policy committees, courted factions within the party, and consulted with affiliated unions such as the Electrical Trades Union, politicians and ministerial advisers. It drafted the Otways Hydrology Study policy which was embraced during the 1999 state election by a victorious Labor Party.  It commissioned the Saulwick & Associates Poll which pointed out to the government that 69% of people in south-west Victoria opposed clearfell logging. It engaged in strategic dialogue with the Minister for Environments office right up to the 2002 election.

ALP ORIG worked closely with environment groups and in the process developed a Common Base Position Statement in February 2002 which provided a framework for ending logging in the Otways. Importantly, the framework clarified for the government how logging could be brought to an end in the Otways without negating the West Victoria Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) (to be distinguished from the Greens campaign of RFA No Way).

The chronology brings to light contributions of professional journalists such as Claire Miller, the then Environment Reporter for The Age, whose articles provided to the public of Victoria a dramatic narrative of the battles down on the south-west coast and the reactions of the government and the timber industry. The series of articles now stand as an invaluable testament as to what happened back then.

Whilst the chronology does acknowledge support leant to the campaign by some Labor Members of Parliament, in reality MPs tended to be relatively missing in action, having failed to bind together in any form within the parliamentary wing to amplify community concerns. Predictably, it was Labor MPs, a number of whom actually opposed ending logging of the Otways, who became electoral beneficiaries.

There were notable differences in strategies and objectives that characterised the conduct of various groups, and in that regard, there may be lessons for future campaigns. In particular, in the opinion of the writer, OREN changed its course after the Premier Steve Bracks signed the West Victoria RFA in 2000. OREN had been a local brand name for the movement to end logging in the Otways and was particularly respected for it research and series of reports critiquing DSEs policies and operations. However, OREN became progressively negotiable with Minister for Environments Office and made several offers to not endorse Direct Action by protesters in exchange for the Department not logging contentious coupes that OREN had identified. These dealings could have alienated the movement, and seemed farcical since they did not procure any substantive commitments by the state government to end logging. Further, the Department continued to chainsaw its way through ORENs list of contentious coupes.

In February 2002, the state election year, Minister Garbutt publically claimed that her office had entered into a peace deal with OREN, as if the war was over. However, the Ministers claim of a peace deal during the election year was illusory. Community groups, environment groups, the Democrats and Greens Party, ALP Otway Ranges Interest Group and residents persisted with direct action in coupes such as Dunse Track, endorsed the Common Base Position Statement, joined the Rally For Our Forests outside the May 2002 ALP State Conference and lobbied on all political levels in the lead up to the election to maximise pressure on the government for immediate reform.

The Bracks governments Otways announcement was a political response to an accumulation of efforts by a broad range of stakeholders. In that regard, it also ought not to be forgotten that ORENs agitation, regular reporting of events through its website, and persistent dialogue with the government remained extremely important for helping to keep the issue on the political and public agenda. 

The specific political trigger for the Otways announcement related to the fact that the Labor Party was a minority government and needed to secure its inner Melbourne seats from a strengthening and predatory environmental Greens Party at the 30 November 2002 state election. The seeds had been planted by the public and several weeks before the election the Labor Party machine finally bought the argument and decided that, despite an intransigent Environment Minister and lobbying from the Timber Workers Division (CFMEU) and the timber industry, saving the Otways could neutralise the Greens environmental vote. The ALP went on to win the 2002 election in a landslide, which included securing three seats in the south-west of Victoria.

The policy proved, after many exhausting and sometimes bloody battles, to be an electoral gift from the public to the incumbent government.

Status of the West Victoria Regional Forest Agreement:

The Otways legislation was passed despite terms contained in the West Victoria Regional Forest Agreement that, for example, provide that with any changes in the timber harvesting area there must not be a net deterioration in the timber capacity of the forest.

Whilst the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN)  maintains on its website that the Otways/OREN campaign destroyed the Regional Forest Agreement process and that former Premier Bracks is the only State Premier to ever have cancelled a Regional Forest Agreement in its entirety anywhere in Australia!!', the reality is that the West Victoria RFA remains intact.

Regional Forest Agreements were structured to abrogate the Federal government from its obligations to regulate the native timber forestry under Commonwealth acts such the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwth),  Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974, Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 (Cwth) and the Export Control Act, and regulations such as the Export Control (Unprocessed Wood) Regulations (Cwth) and Export Control (Hardwood Wood Chips) Regulations  (Cwth). If the West Victoria RFA has been cancelled then these Commonwealth acts and regulations would once again apply to the West Victoria region, in particular in relation to the burgeoning hardwood plantation estate (including leased crown land), and management of continued hardwood logging in the Midlands Forest Management Area.

The Otways election announcement constituted a possible breach of the West Victoria RFA by the state government. However, the Federal government has not, and would not have any interest in using that breach to terminate the agreement under the termination clauses in the RFA. 

Further, the writer suggests that the state government could perhaps argue that whilst it may have breached some terms of the RFA agreement, it had merely adopted recommendation 16 of the  Evaluation of Data and Methods for Estimating the Sustainable Yield of Sawlogs in Victoria (Expert Data Reference Group, 2001) by applying the optimal harvesting rate that delivers the greatest benefit to stakeholders, which in the case of the Otways Forest Management Area had been deemed to be a sustainable logging yield of 0%.

Rather than dismissing the RFA as an irrelevancy, a challenge for environment groups is to ascertain the remaining obligations that the State government is yet to and/or must still comply with under the West Victoria RFA for ecologically sustainable management of its native forests, as well as for regulating plantation forestry operations.

Key events:

The chronology is intended to capture key events to give the reader an insight into the dynamics of the campaign. It has largely avoided delving into the forest politics of other regions but does make some references to conduct of organisations such as the Australian Conservation Council (ACF) and The Wilderness Society (TWS) with their regards strategies that impacted on all the forest campaigns at the times - in particular, their support of the State government to establish VicForest as a state-owned corporation for public forestry (a form of privatisation), and TWSs initiating of a Writ in the Supreme Court against the CFMEU that virtually destroyed any opportunity for environment groups to develop an alliance with green unions through Earthworker.

The chronology has been drafted by the writer from his extensive cabinet of documents and computer files as well as through some Googling. However, the writer is more than happy to amend any factual errors or misinterpretations, and include other key events which may be brought to his attention by the reader, and which can only add to the documents usefulness.

The chronology includes hyperlinks for readers who might want a more in depth understanding of the issues or confirm the accuracy of the writers entries. The links can also be accessed in the box on the home page of the website.


Trevor Poulton


ALP Otway Ranges Interest Group (ALP ORIG)

Mobile: 0402 987 181


6 October 2008

See: How to make a stand within the ALP


Defining, Identifying and Protecting Old-growth Forest in Victoria

by Trevor Poulton (2006)


How the ALP can End Clearfell Logging of the Otway Ranges

Clearfell logging involves the broad scale clearing of forest areas and has a dramatic impact on the landscape. According to the September 2001 Saulwick poll A Quantitative Study of Corangamite Voter Attitudes (commissioned by ALP Otway Ranges Interest Group), 69% of all electors in Corangamite oppose the clearfelling of native forests in the Otways.

The State ALP can shift the voting patterns of a significant proportion of swinging voters by ending clearfell logging in the Otways. This can be achieved under the terms of the Federal-State West Victoria Regional Forest Agreement and the Forest Act 1958.


1) The Victorian State Government commits to ending clearfell logging in the Otways as at 30 June 2002

2) The Victorian State Government:

    (a) immediately ceases the granting of Residual Log Licences; and

    (b) ends the annual renewal of Residual log allocations, which allow for the exploitation of the Otways for woodchips, as at 30 June 2002.

3) The Victorian State Government and the Federal Government assist with structural adjustment through employment creation programs in private plantation forestry and tourism industries in the Otway-Colac region.

Mt Sabine Falls - temporarily reprieved from logging through the actions of ALP Otway Ranges Interest Group and Community Groups


Contacts for the Otway Ranges Interest Group
(formed statewide as a non-constituent unit of the ALP - 2000)
Nick Adams (Fitzroy Branch)
Carol Wilmink (Apollo Bay Branch)
Sandra Skene (Apollo Bay Branch)
Lindsay Hesketh (Upper Yarra Branch)
Trevor Poulton (Northcote Branch): 0402 987 181
by email to

"The ALP is in power -
we are not asking the Premier to lead the Party out of the wilderness - we are asking the Premier to save the wilderness."