Rising Tide: ‘We have to build a movement to stop coal’

August 15, 2023
Get ready to join the people's blockade in November. Image: Rising Tide/Facebook

Green Left’s Niko Leka asked Alexa Stewart from Rising Tide about the protest in Muloobinba/Newcastle in November to block the world’s biggest coal port.

* * *

Can you explain what Rising Tide’s aims are, and its philosophy for getting there?

Rising Tide is trying to build a mass disruptive movement: its primary aim is to shut down the world’s largest coal port in Muloobinba.

We’re trying to stop all export of coal moving out through the Newcastle coal port by 2030, and we’re also trying to end new coal projects.

To do that we are going to build a massive movement, with more than 1000 people based in Muloobinba, but much more broadly as a national movement that is diverse, massive, really disruptive and uses civil disobedience.

In November we’ll have a two-day blockade of the coal port. We’ll be getting on kayaks and boats and be on the beach, stopping coal ships moving through the port: it has never been done before.

We’ve got quite a strong tradition here of having flotilla blockades, but they’ve only ever lasted a few hours on one day.

This time it’ll be over 30 hours across two days: and we're aiming to get 3000 people — it will be the biggest one ever.

At least half of those people are going to be coming from across Australia, and so we’re going on tour to pitch the event and get people travelling to the blockade.

Are there Rising Tides branches across Australia?

We’re starting to see them pop up. The idea of Rising Tide is that we have a flagship battle here in Muloobinba for a more national movement, like the Franklin Dam campaign.

They had that specific location battle, but it was also part of a more broad national campaign against the loss of native forests.

That’s our goal and to do that we do need support from across the country.

Adelaide Rising Tide just had its first event: they’re going to be doing other events associated with fossil fuels or events specific to Adelaide and we’re in conversations about what this will look like.

They are also getting people to our big actions in Muloobinba. They’ve already booked one bus from Adelaide and are looking at booking a second.

It’s also really exciting in Meanjin/Brisbane: we've got a lot of energy up there. They're aiming to get 300 people to the blockade.

There's so much that people from all across the country can be doing because it's not going to be a battle that we won just in Muloobinba.

We're trying, through this battle, to mobilise the whole country to increase the conversation around ending fossil fuels, to build a really strong movement.

Off the back of the Franklin River blockade came The Wilderness society and, to this day, the TWS is working to protect native forests and the special ecosystems and wilderness places.

How has the mass media reacted so far?

At our biggest event, in April, 50 people were arrested for stopping a coal train: that received international media coverage and a lot of it was really positive because we had a really clear message: no new coal.

When people can see the diversity and the commitment and the people getting involved, they are a lot more sympathetic.

They are also sympathetic when we go directly to the source and cause grievance on fossil fuel companies — the criminals who are mining and burning fossil fuels.

It will be a positive atmosphere: there will be music, art and communities coming together in a way that isn’t scary or intimidating. It will show that ordinary people really care.

[Sign up to join the protest here.]

Video: Rising Tide plans 'biggest ever coal port blockade'. Green Left.

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