Rising Tide organised a well attended protest outside the Newcastle office of Sharon Claydon MP on November 11, calling on Labor to stop the mining and export of coal.
The action, titled “Connect the Dots,” had originally planned to march from Claydon’s office to Whitehaven Coal’s office, to highlight Labor’s support for coal companies.
At a November 7 action, in which protesters organised a sit-in inside Whitehaven Coal’s office, five teenage protesters were arrested. The “Whitehaven Five”, as they are known, face the local and children’s court on November 24 and 28.
Because the Whitehaven Five are prohibited from going within 500 metres of Whitehaven’s office, Rising Tide changed plans and marched from Claydon’s office to exactly 500 metres from Whitehaven.
Claydon’s office was sporting posters in its windows outlining how the Albanese government was tackling climate change. They included half-measures and false promises.
New South Wales Police were present long before the protest and within a few minutes of the speeches being given at least 16 Public Order and Riot Squad officers arrived.
Among the speakers were event organisers Worimi elder Aunty Theresa and three of the Whitehaven Five — Alexa Stuart, Ivy Lane and Oliver Rowe.
Stuart said the police told the group protesting outside Claydon’s office “to leave now and think about our futures”.
“Ironically, that was exactly what we were doing,” Stuart said.
“I was scared about getting arrested, but I’m more scared of growing old and watching our climate collapse and wishing I’d done more to stop it. And that is a guilt I could not live with.”
The protesters formed a single file line while holding cardboard dots and a blue ribbon that ran continuously down the line of 100 or so people spread 1–2 metres apart each.
Mounted police also arrived, to follow from the stern.
At Civic Park, Rowe asked the crowd: “Why is it illegal for us to protest and demand our voices be heard?”
Lane read from Whitehaven Coal’s Sustainability Report.
“Whitehaven wants to achieve net zero by 2050? This coal company is saying this … but plans to double emissions by 2030. “Every time I read that there is rain in Lismore, I cry and I try to go to sleep in peace.”
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