Sun, Oct 09, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Five arrested after protest in Sydney over furniture store

AFP, SYDNEY

Three people yesterday scaled Sydney’s iconic Opera House, unfurling a bright yellow banner on its tiled white sails to protest against the destruction of forests.

Police said five people were arrested after the protest.

“Two women and a man climbed the structure and a banner was unfurled on the building’s northwestern sail,” police said in a statement, adding that the women, aged 22 and 30, and the 37-year-old man were charged with trespassing.

Two other women were also arrested after allegedly refusing directions to leave the area by security officers, police said.

The protesters climbed onto the Opera House in front of hundreds of onlookers, releasing a 10x12m banner that read: “No Harvey Norman. No. Stop Selling Aussie Forest Destruction” as they abseiled down the side.

Activists from the group The Last Stand said the protest was aimed at drawing attention to retailing giant Harvey Norman, a popular chain store that sells furniture and electrical goods.

“We are focusing on Harvey Norman and the role they play in helping to drive forest destruction here and overseas by selling products in their stores that are sourced from native forests,” group spokeswoman Ula Majewski said.

Harvey Norman could not be reached yesterday. It has reportedly previously said it has been unfairly targeted and did its best to use timber from sustainable sources.

Majewski said while Harvey Norman also sold products made from sustainable timber plantations and recycled wood, they were a big enough player in the market to do more.

“We just think that as the retail giant that they are, they can play a really important role in transforming the market,” she told reporters. “And we are just asking them to show some real environmental leadership.”

The furniture industry described the protest as misguided, saying Australia’s native forests were managed to global best practice standards.

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