Climate activists face $525,000 compo claim

January 29, 2011
The activists shut down operations at all three coal terminals in Port Newcastle on September 26, 2010. Photo: Conor Ashleigh

Greens MP David Shoebridge joined members of climate action group Rising Tide Newcastle at a press conference on January 28 to condemn Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) “victim’s compensation” claim of $525,0000 against seven protesters.

PWCS is pursuing the claim in response to a peaceful protest organised in September 2010, which stopped coal loading in Newcastle port for almost 10 hours.

Rising Tide spokesperson Carly Phillips, a schoolteacher and defendant in the case, said that “the laws being used in this case were designed with the intention of compensating victims of violent crime”.

She said the attempted use of the laws to muzzle peaceful protesters was “a gross abuse” of the legislation.

Phillips said PWCS, a joint venture between multinational mining corporations Rio Tinto and Xstrata, was “playing the bully in the schoolyard to counter growing opposition to Australia’s addiction to coal, which is widely recognised as Australia's number one cause of global warming”.

Phillips said the “Rising Tide Seven” would not be intimidated. "Unlike Australia's governments, we will not cave in to the coal industry while the hour is upon us to phase out fossil fuels and rapidly transition to renewable energy.”

Shoebridge said that the NSW police force was wrong to lodge the claim for compensation on behalf of PWCS. He said the company’s compensation claim was dishonest.

Shoebridge said that the law “needs urgent reform to make it clear that the only victims who can claim compensation are people — not corporations”.

He said the Greens would table new legislation in the next NSW parliament to make this distinction abundantly clear.

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