The destruction of Tasmania’s pristine wilderness areas, first by dams and then by logging, has been a focus for environmental protests at least since the flooding of Lake Pedder in 1972. Bob Brown, the founding leader of the Greens, has been a central figure in much of that history, as he was again in January 2016 when he was arrested after refusing to leave the Lapoinya Forest. Along with another protester, Jessica Hoyt, who had been arrested five days earlier, he was charged with an offence under Tasmania’s Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014. Although the charges against them were dropped, they went to the High Court to argue that the relevant provisions were unconstitutional.
Last week, a majority of the High Court held that they were right. At that point, the environmental history merged with constitutional history.