Blockade Australia: Carbon activists promise more disruption despite warnings of 25 years in prison | Energy

Two Climate activists shut down operations in the world’s largest coal port on Wednesday morning by climbing on top of Newcastle harbor planes and pressing an emergency safety button, halting coal exports.

“As scary as [the police] it can be as scary as actions that might exclude you from certain communities, it’s not as scary as the future we’re heading for, ”one of the protesters, 21-year-old Hannah, said.

Over the past 10 days, a handful of climate activists have allegedly used their bodies, ropes and glue as part of a “destructive operation” to stifle key bottlenecks in the multibillion-dollar coal supply chain in Hunter. Politicians and police have so far been unable to. to stop them.

NSW police chief Mick Fuller said protesters face up to 25 years in prison, but activists already charged with alleged crimes last week promise to continue.

The city of Newcastle and the surrounding Hunter area are home to the world’s largest coal port in the history of Australia’s mining wealth.

Protecting jobs in the region has also become a common excuse offered by politicians who have seen the nation’s notorious remnant of climate action.

The coal mining industry directly and indirectly employs up to 61,000 people in Hunter, where the green landscape is covered by opencast coal mines and a railway that transported about 150 million tonnes of electricity, or more than A $ 19 billion in coal. plants in Australia and the world in 2020 alone.

For this reason, New South Wales Police Minister David Elliot has already named a campaign allegedly engaging in “economic vandalism” of the newly formed “Blockade Australia”.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was furious with the protesters during his visit to Singleton this week. He appeared at the train station as a coal truck passed by, and he claimed that each train load of coal was worth about a million dollars in exports.

He said the blockade had disrupted $ 60 million in exports on Monday.

“If they have other ways this nation can make money right now, we’re all ears,” Joyce said. “[But] in the meantime we have to make money.

“It’s about $ 100,000 in royalties, so you have payments here for your NDIS, payments for your pharmacovigilance system, payments for pensions and unemployment benefits.”

Even Matt Kean, NSW’s treasurer and energy minister, who has loudly criticized the federal government’s climate change strategy, has opposed the disturbance and demanded police “throw a book” at protesters.

“Pull your head in – get out of the way and don’t hurt other people who make their lives and run their businesses,” Kean told Sydney Radio 2GB on Wednesday.

“There are hundreds of ways to make their views known and advocate for change, but endangering the lives of railroad workers is certainly not one of them.”

Coal exports in the port of Newcastle were halted on Wednesday.
Coal exports in the port of Newcastle were halted on Wednesday. Photo: Blockade Australia

As the railroad was supported at the port and activities that had led to the arrest of 17 protesters and disruption of $ 60 million worth of coal exports, Fuller added an early warning and announced the establishment of a Strike Force Tuohy to crack down on the attacks. activists on Monday.

He also warned protesters that he had received legal advice that he could use a vague charge related to the disruption of the railway in order to cause death or personal injury, which could result in up to 25 years in prison.

On Tuesday, two people were indicted and are now facing a possible 25-year prison sentence.

Blockade participant Clancey Maher, who was arrested and awaiting charges of disruption last week, told the Guardian Australia he was “fully committed to taking such action again” despite the latest threats of tougher penalties.

Clancey Maher and Tim Neville Blockade members of Australian mobilization stand outside Coal Harbor on Kooragang Island, Newcastle, Australia
Clancey Maher and Tim Neville Blockade members of Australian mobilization stand outside Coal Harbor on Kooragang Island, Newcastle, Australia Photo: Blake Sharp-Wiggins / The Guardian

Last Friday at around 4.30pm, a 26-year-old is allegedly climbing a railway bridge across the Hunter River to the coal terminal at Newcastle Harbor on Kooragang Island and tying a rope to the tracks.

Maher, along with another protester, Tim Neville, then descended from the bridge and hung about five feet above the river.

The trains could not pass, authorities were alerted and a police lifeboat drove under the pair as the police above dropped the rope on board.

When Maher was first arrested, Neville kept the rescuers occupied for much longer after gluing his hands to the bridge.

They claimed to have stopped coal from entering the port for about two and a half hours.

Although Neville has already appeared in court and received a criminal conviction and a $ 1,500 fine, Maher’s case has been adjourned. He is not optimistic about the legal process because he says he has a “history” associated with past climate protest activity.

Maher describes himself as a full-time community organizer and has previously been involved in protests at the Adan coal mine.

Speaking of the police operation, Fuller has said the protesters “come from other states and regions with special expertise and are locked in these locomotives and tracks.”

Many of the protesters arrested by police are from Victoria, and although Maher has lived in Newcastle before, he is open about not being local. He said the protesters were funding their own trip to Hunter and that the same was true for future Blockade Australia events.

As for police concerns that the protesters are endangering all track users, not just carbon workers, Maher said this was the “expected line” and that the participants themselves are in the greatest danger. “Trains will be stopped with adequate warning.”

He also said he did not rejoice at the economic consequences for the whole region, which have angered politicians.

“We see it as the only way to force the necessary action. The option is less desirable.”

In statements to the media, Blockade Australia does not describe itself as a purely anti-carbon group. Instead, it says it is “committed to taking the necessary steps to break Australia’s economic bottlenecks and halt the plundering colonial project.”

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