Former federal Greens leader and senator Bob Brown has reportedly been arrested in Tasmania, in connection to a long-running protest over logging operations in the north-west of the state.
Brown, who resigned from the senate in 2012, was said to have been arrested for participating in a protest at Lapoinya. The news was shared by the Bob Brown Foundation's Twitter account:
Bob Brown has just been arrested at Lapoinya in NW Tas, site of community protests over logging. Being taken to Burnie Police stn. #politas— Bob Brown (@BobBrownFndn) January 25, 2016
Lapoinya, a tiny town on the northern tip of the state, has been embroiled in a long-running conflict with logging companies over the proposed felling of forests in the area. The town, with a population of only a few hundred at the last national census in 2011, has been fighting the plans but logging was due to commence this month.
A spokesman for Brown's office confirmed the news to The Huffington Post Australia, saying Brown had been arrested about 11.45am.
"A few of the local community were arrested last week [for protesting] and Bob went up yesterday to support the community. He was on or near the site, and was snared by the police," spokesman Steven Chaffer said.
Chaffer said a range of "draconian anti-protest laws" had recently been brought in by the Tasmanian government, which carried "very stiff sentences".
"But Bob is not the sort of person who would stop protesting just because there's a law not to," Chaffer laughed.
Brown has been vocal about the Lapoinya action online, posting several tweets about the logging and the protests.
Brave community of Lapoinya punished for stand against forest destruction. First arrest under harsh new laws won't be the last. #politas— Bob Brown (@BobBrownFndn) January 19, 2016
Tasmanian police confirmed the arrest in a media release on Monday afternoon.
"A 71 year old Cygnet man has today been arrested and charged after failing to comply with a police direction to leave a business access area to Lapoinya State Forest. A 67 year old Sisters Beach man was also arrested and charged after failing to comply
with a police direction to leave the business access area. Both people failed to comply with the direction and leave the business access area under s. 8(1) of the Workplaces [Protection from Protestors] Act 2014," a police statement read.
"The arrested people were transported to the Burnie Police Station, charged and bailed. Two other people today received a direction from police at the same time and will receive Police Infringement Notices."
"While the general demeanour of protests was peaceful, police will continue to monitor the situation and take action accordingly."