More than 100 climate protesters will face court, including a 97-year-old minister of religion, following a weekend blockade at Port of Newcastle.
This protest, beginning on Saturday morning, involved groups paddling into the shipping lane servicing the world’s largest coal port and demanding for the government stop allowing new coal projects, tax fossil fuel export profits at 75 per cent to fund community and industrial transition, and pay for climate loss and damage.
As the organised finishing time for the protest passed, groups remained in the water, resulting in a total of 109 arrests – 49 men, 60 women and five juvenile demonstrators. All have been charged with operating a vessel so as to interfere with others’ use of waters.
Protest organiser Alexa Stuart said her 97-year-old grandfather, Uniting Church minister Alan Stuart, was among those arrested.
“If the government will not take action on climate change, the people will use civil disobedience,” she said.
“We wish we did not have to do this but the Albanese government needs to understand we are serious.”
Rev Stuart said he was doing his duty to his family and the planet.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said several legal observers were also arrested at the event and charged for undertaking activities that were nothing more than within their role as observers.
In a letter to NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb, the council called for the charges to be withdrawn.
“They are independent of the protest itself and do not take part in the protest, any decision-making regarding the protest, or directing protesters,” the letter read.
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