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Marking 25 years of the Franklin River decision

Today is the 25th anniversary of the High Court’s decision to block the Franklin Dam in Tasmania’s south-west Wilderness.

In 1982 Tasmanians elected a Liberal Government for the first time ever. The Premier, Robin Gray, had campaigned on building the Franklin Dam.

After losing the battle to save Lake Pedder from being dammed in the 1970s conservationists launched a highly co-ordinated battle to save the Franklin River, beginning in late 1982.

Over three months about 6,000 protesters blockaded the river and construction roads.

Current Australian Greens leader Bob Brown was among the hundreds sent to jail.

“I came out of jail and the next day found myself a member of Parliament,” said Senator Brown.

One of Tasmania’s Supreme Court judges, Pierre Slicer, also ended up in jail for three weeks.

“And I’m the only judge in Australia that I know of who’s been refused bail by his own Chief Justice,” he said.

In 1983, the then Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, took the Tasmanian Government to the High Court. It decided by just one vote to allow the Federal Government to stop Tasmania building the dam. Later that year, Mr Hawke provided Tasmania with $276 million in compensation.