Franklin River

In 1978, the Tasmanian Hydro Electric Commission announced the Franklin Dam project to flood the Franklin River and produce hydro electricity. However, the proposed dam was never constructed due to the non-violent protest campaign by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, which first failed with the campaign against the building of dams on Lake Pedder in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The proposed dam sparked a lot of controversy between the Tasmanian government and the TWS and their supporters. The issue also polarized the community with about 70% supporting the dam. By December 1982, the site was occupied and protested, and had become a federal issue the following March. After the 1983 election and the new government, run under Bob Hawke who promised to stop the dam, led to a legal battle between the federal government and Tasmanian Government. As the issue grew bigger, the TWS, under activist Bob Brown, began to mount a public interest campaign to fight for the Franklin.
The TWS and those fighting for the river used many methods to fight against the construction of the damn and to influence the decision. As mentioned earlier, direct action was immediately taken with the dame site occupied by protestors and continued so with around 50 people arriving at the blockade each day. Such action led to a widespread of arrests but also provided great publicity and the campaign was spread nation wide through the media. A series of public meets and street marches also took place which brought the issue to the forefront of Tasmanian politics that received support of pro-damn politicians.
On the other hand, the Tasmanian government imposed the laws and made things difficult for the protestors. They passed several laws and enforced special bail conditions for those the were arrested. In 1981, a referendum was held in an attempt to resolve the issue but was unsuccessful with 44% of votes being withdrawn for writing 'No Dams' across the ballot ticket. The HEC also claimed that...
  • The Franklin Dam
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  • Law
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