Seven climate activists who temporarily shut down coal loaders at Newcastle harbour in a September protest will wait another month to find out if they owe Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) $525,000 in “compensation”.
The activists appeared in Newcastle Local Court for two days of hearings on January 31 and February 3. They were convicted of “remaining on enclosed lands”.
Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs.
The court deferred its ruling on PWCS’s “victims compensation” claim against the activists until March 3. A legal team from the Environmental Defenders Office represented the activists.
PWCS (which is owned by giant fossil fuel companies Rio Tinto and Xstrata) ran a full-page advertisement in the January 29 Newcastle Herald.
The advertisement claimed the company was pursuing the activists, who are members of the climate action group Rising Tide, because they had genuine concern for people's safety. But it made no reference to the company’s claim of $525,000 against the activists.
The irony of PWCS’s claim to be concerned about safety was not lost on the defendants.
Rising Tide spokesperson Carly Phillips said on February 3: “If PWCS truly placed the safety of people ahead of their own profits, then they would be planning to phase out coal exports, not double them."
Phillips quoted the Global Humanitarian forum in Geneva, which estimates climate change is already killing 300,000 people a year. “It would be reckless and greedy for PWCS to ignore the safety of the climate," she said.
Phillips defended the climate activists’ right to protest and said the Rising Tide Seven were victims of corporate bullying.
“To maintain a safe climate we must begin a just transition away from the environmentally destructive coal industry. This must start with a ban on any new coal infrastructure or coal expansions.”
[ For more details visit www.risingtide7.wordpress.com ]