Ecologist’s bail variation hearing adjourned

Mark Graham (L, with hat) addresses supporters.

WELL-KNOWN local ecologist Mark Graham was in Coffs Harbour Local Court last week seeking to remove a condition of bail that bans him from entering State Forests.

Mr Graham said the ban is harming him financially, professionally and personally because his work involves him collaborating with a host of globally-esteemed clients and collaborators on research and media projects related to forests.

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He said he needs to visit State Forests or travel through them to access conservation reserves.

Mr Graham said he had no issue with being banned from forestry operation areas but the blanket ban was punitive and he has yet to be convicted of any crime.

He was buoyed by testimonials from local councillors, a member of state parliament and prominent conservationists and the presence of almost 50 supporters who arrived at the court.

However, he was dismayed when the magistrate agreed with the prosecutor to adjourn the hearing for two weeks.

The court was told that Mr Graham would need a permit to enter a State Forest.

Mr Graham, who represented himself, told the court that despite Forestry Corporation regulations stating that permits are needed for activities such as filming and research, Section 60 of the Forestry Act 2012 in no way supported this claim.

However, the magistrate was persuaded to adjourn the proceedings.

“This is another highly questionable stunt to deny me my freedoms and lawful rights,” Mr Graham said.

“I am already being harmed by the vile, onerous and punitive bail condition that bans me from accessing about 30 percent of our region.”

The matter will return to court by March 15.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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