Protesters Again Target Major Coal Ports in Australia

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The Port of Newcastle and the Port of Melbourne have again been targeted by climate protesters just hours after a teenager scaled a coal loader and glued herself to a railing.

It’s the third day of action by climate activists targeting major east coast coal ports.

A young woman named Niamh abseiled off Shepherd’s bridge on Footscray Road on Wednesday morning, blocking six lanes of traffic with a safety line stretched across the road.

Earlier, a 22-year-old man named Angus perched himself on top of a nine-metre pole on a rail bridge at Branxton, forcing the closure of the NSW Hunter railway line, with no trains running between Scone and Maitland.

The man anchored the pole to the rail infrastructure to cause maximum disruption to operations.

By mid-Monday morning, both protesters had yet to be removed by police.

The action comes after an 18-year-old Canberra woman was charged on Tuesday night after scaling a coal loader at Newcastle and gluing herself to a railing.

On Monday, another woman was charged after suspending herself above the railway leading to Newcastle’s coal loader.

Police Minister Yasmin Catley labelled the protesters “crazy” and “blockheads”, describing the action as “absolute nonsense”.

“Their actions do absolutely nothing for the environment or climate change,” she told Sydney Radio 2GB.

“They are endangering the lives of those around them and, in particular, the lives of those coming to rescue them,” she said.

“Imagine the train drivers. … it’s not like stopping a car, it can take up to a kilometre to stop a train, and that would be a train driver’s worst nightmare.”

Police say they were called to Cormorant Road, Newcastle, around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday after reports of a woman on the coal loader.

Police Rescue officers helped remove her from the structure before she was charged with entering a major facility and causing damage, entering enclosed non-agricultural land and causing a serious safety risk.

The woman was refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

The woman who suspended herself above the railway to Newcastle’s coal loader on Monday was bailed after appearing in the Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday.

Claudia Ellen Hannigan, 22, was one of three people charged over Monday’s actions by the Blockade Australia group, coming on the anniversary of a police raid on a rural property northwest of Sydney that was allegedly being used by climate action activists to plan protests.

Hannigan was charged with causing an obstruction to a railway locomotive and entering enclosed lands posing a serious safety risk.

She was ordered to live in Sydney’s inner west and not travel north of Gosford unless attending court as part of her bail conditions.

Her arrest coincided with two other protesters being charged for similar demonstrations in Brisbane and Melbourne.

Multiple Australian states have introduced legislation targeting the disruptive demonstrations of environmental protesters since NSW added new offences and heavier penalties in March 2022.

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