This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit legalaid.vic.gov.au, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

Environmental protests

Information about the powers to stop people from protesting about duck shooting and destruction of native forests.

Laws were changed in 2014 to increase the sanctions against people protesting against destruction of forests and against duck hunters. From 25 May and 14 March respectively authorised officers may apply to court for orders that exclude protesters for up to 12 months from being in an area where trees are being felled or in areas where ducks are being shot by hunters.

Protesting against logging activities

See also Protesting against duck shooting

Areas in and close to state forests where logging has been permitted can be designated as 'Timber harvesting safety zones'. It is an offence for a person without authority to enter these safety zones.

People authorised to be in these zones include employees of VicRoads, Country Fire Authority, Environment Protection Authority, police and people with logging licences or permits. Authorised officers have the power to ask for a person's name and address if the reasonably believe that a person is committing or has committed an offence.

See Part 7A, Schedule 2, s. 84—Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

What is a timber harvesting safety zone?

A timber harvesting safety zone ('safety zone') is a coupe (area of state forest that has been identified for logging) and any road that has been closed so that timber can be harvested and any area in a state forest that is within 150 metres from the boundary of that coupe. A warning notice will be displayed near that zone and on any road that leads to the safety zone.

See ss. 3, 77B, 77C—Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Direction to leave a safety zone

Offences

It is an offence to:

  • refuse to comply with a direction to leave a safety zone by an authorised officer
  • refuse to comply with a direction to stop or move their vehicle as directed
  • refuse to remove a dog from a safety zone
  • possess a prohibited thing (bolt cutter, cement, metal or wood frame, heavy chain, shackle or joining clip)
  • allow a dog to enter a safety zone
  • remove or destroy a barrier or fence or notice
  • interfere, hinder or obstruct timber harvesting operations
  • interfere, obstruct or hinder harvesting operations with a prohibited thing
  • hinder or obstruct an authorised officer, or
  • threaten or abuse an authorised officer.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for:

  • refusing to give a name and address is 5 penalty units
  • destroying a barrier, fence or notice, hindering or abusing an authorised officer is up to 60 penalty units
  • using a prohibited thing to hinder, obstruct or interfere with timber harvesting operations is 60 penalty units or 6 months jail.

All other offences listed carry a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units.

See ss. 3, 77D, 77E, 77F 77G, 77H, 77I, 77J, 77K, 86, 87, 94A, 94B—Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Exclusion orders

The court may make an order excluding an offender from being a timber harvesting safety zone or an area of state forest for up to 12 months. A court is to consider the gravity of the offence, whether the person had been found guilty of a specified offence before, or if they have been the subject of an exclusion order before. They also have to consider the likely impact on the person and on any victim, and public safety and order.

Contravention of an exclusion order

The maximum penalty for contravening an exclusion order is 60 penalty units.

See ss. 94C, 94D, 94E, 94F—Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Disposal of seized items and costs

An authorised person may remove and destroy any items found in a state forest if they cannot find out who is responsible for the items found. If a person has been directed to move the obstructions from the forest and they are unwilling or unable to do this in the time that is specified, the authorised officer can remove and dispose of any item that is causing the obstruction. The authorised owner can recover any reasonable costs associated with doing this from the person responsible for the obstruction.

See s. 94—Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Protesting against duck shooting

Since the early 1990s protesters have disrupted people shooting ducks during the duck hunting season. They enter the wetlands, make noises to scare away the birds and generally try to disrupt the hunt and minimise the bird deaths. A protester was accidently shot in the face on the opening weekend of the 'season' in 2011.

Authorised officers or police may issue a banning notice to a person until the end of the season. They can apply to court for an exclusion order if the person does not comply with a banning notice.

Offences

It is an offence for a person to:

  • enter or remain in a specified duck hunting area during the duck hunting season unless they are authorised to be there.
  • approach a hunter any closer than 10 meters of a person who is carrying a firearm or who is involved in hunting
  • hinder, harass, obstruct or interfere with a person hunting or collecting game.

Penalty

The maximum penalty for any of these offences is 60 penalty units.

See ss. 58C, 58D, 58E—Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)(opens in a new window).and Value of penalty and fee units.

Banning notices

An authorised officer who reasonably suspects that a person is committing or has committed one of the offences listed above, may issue a person with a banning notice. This notice prohibits that person from entering one or more specified hunting areas until the time specified on the notice. The ban could be for the remainder of that duck hunting season.

Only one banning notice can be issued for the same specified area in the duck hunting season. However, a person could be issued with a second banning notice if the notice covers a different area.

The authorised officer who issues the notice must show their authorisation (unless they are a uniformed police officer).

It is an offence to refuse or to fail to comply with the banning notice.

See ss. 58G, 58H—Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Who is an authorised officer?

An authorised officer is someone who has been appointed in that role under the Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987 or the Game Management Authority Act 2014. Police are also authorised to act under this part.

See ss. 3(1), 58G(4)—Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Offence to contravene a banning order

The penalty for contravening a banning notice by going back to the area or remaining in the area after getting the banning notice is a fine of up to 20 penalty units. The penalty for a second offence is up to 60 penalty units.

See s. 58J—Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Value of penalty and fee units.

Exclusion orders

An authorised officer or police officer may apply to court for an exclusion order for a person who has been found guilty of one of the offences listed above and the court is satisfied that the exclusion order will be an effective way of preventing the person from committing another offence.

An exclusion order prohibits that person from being in a specified hunting area during any open season for ducks.

An exclusion order can last for up to 12 months.

When the court is deciding whether to make an exclusion order they must consider:

  • the nature and gravity of the offence
  • if the person has been found guilty of one of the specified offences before
  • if a banning notice or exclusion order has been issued to that person before
  • the effect that the order may have on the person
  • any alleged victim, and
  • public safety and public order.

See s. 58M—Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Contravening an exclusion order

The penalty for contravening an exclusion order is up to 60 penalty units for a first offence and up to 120 penalty units for a second or subsequent offence.

See s. 58O—Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines a coupe and prohibited thing
  • Part 7A—Timber harvesting safety zones
  • s. 77A—power to declare certain areas as timber harvesting safety zones
  • s. 77B—defines a timber harvesting safety zone
  • s. 77C—requirement for a notice to be given
  • s. 77D—direction to leave a safety zone
  • s. 77E—direction to stop or move a vehicle in a safety zone
  • s. 77F—direction to move a dog
  • s. 77G—offence to be in a safety zone unless authorised
  • s. 77H—offence to possess a prohibited thing
  • s. 77I—offence to allow a dog to enter
  • s. 77J—offence to remove a barrier
  • s. 77K—offence to destroy a notice
  • s. 84—requirement to give name and address
  • s. 86—hindering or obstructing an authorised officer
  • s. 87—threatening or abusing an authorised officer
  • ss. 94A, 94B—offence to hinder, obstruct or interfere with timber harvesting operations
  • Part 9B—exclusion orders
  • s. 94C—defines a specified offence
  • s. 94D—exclusion orders
  • s. 94F—offence to contravene an exclusion order
  • Schedule 2—lists authorised persons

See Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)

  • s. 58C—offence for certain persons to approach a person who is hunting
  • s. 58D—offence to approach a person who is hunting
  • s. 58E—offence to hinder or obstruct a hunter
  • s. 58F—defines a specified offence (as an offence under ss. 58C, 58D or 58E)
  • s. 58G—when banning notices can be issues
  • s. 58H—what has to be included in a banning notice
  • s. 58J—offence to contravene a banning notice
  • s. 58M—exclusion orders
  • s. 58N—varying an exclusion order
  • s. 58O—contravention of exculsion orders

See Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

Activists rights

See Activistrights.org.au(opens in a new window)

Updated