Newcastle Police arrested a young man and woman for filming a peaceful protest on September 3, along with Sarah Barron, a Newcastle local, who had blocked all coal trains heading across Sandgate bridge for three hours. All three were taken into custody by around a dozen police, with the two who filmed the event being charged with “aiding and abetting”.
Barron was participating in “Act Up Newcastle” as part of the #EndCoal campaign initiated by Climate Justice group Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC), in collaboration with Newcastle Climate Justice Uprising.
The groups' aim is to shut down the railways feeding coal into the world's largest coal port in Newcastle and draw attention to Australia's shameful status as the world's biggest coal exporter and one of its worst greenhouse gas emitters.
Barron said she was concerned about her future given the coal industry's grasp on Australian politicians.
“Australia exports more coal than any other country; this makes it one of the worst contributors to climate change.
“Setting domestic emissions targets — something our governments have so far failed to do — is not enough.
“The mining and export of coal in the face of what is an already a spiralling climate crisis ... condemn[s] my generation and those to follow,” said Barron.
FLAC has been active in the Abbot Point and Galilee Basin region for the past year, slowing and stopping work on the Adani-owned coal terminal and the proposed Carmichael coalmine site.
The group advocates community control over resources, 100% renewable power, justice for energy sector workers and a rapid transition to a sustainable, equitable economy.
“Coal needs to end and we can't afford to wait for our government to end it”, FLAC said.
“Our Prime Minister is a proxy for Minerals Council Australia. The PM’s chief of staff is a former coal industry boss. The energy minister is an anti-wind campaigner and the environment minister is a mining industry lawyer.
“Our climate is in crisis and our government is a farce. If the government won't end coal, we, the people, will.”
FLAC said the protest on September 3 highlighted the power imbalance between the coal industry and ordinary people.
“These are concerned young people, fighting for their right for a safe future, supporting their friends and getting unfairly arrested. Meanwhile, the big companies and politicians profit from the coal industry.”
FLAC is inviting people to join Act Up in Newcastle from September 12-16 to stand up against this injustice and fight for a safe climate.
[For more information on FLAC and the protest, click here.]