Barnaby Joyce Is Chucking A Tanty At Activists Who Keep Disrupting World’s Largest Coal Port

"These people who decide to close all that down - I don't know, they mustn't be at work."

Blockade Australia

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Police have threatened environmental protestors in regional NSW with 25 years in jail if they keep halting operations around the world’s largest coal terminal.

Strike Force Tuohy was formed on Monday in response to the activists, who have been blocking coal trains from entering the Port of Newcastle since November 5. So far, some have been charged with trespass and rail disruption, with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller threatening to slap additional railway-related offences which carry a maximum penalty of a 25 years imprisonment.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce weighed in on Monday, irked that their disruption had lost the industry $60 million in coal exports in just 10 days, before making a sweeping assumption that the protestors were unemployed.

“What you’ve got here is payments for your NDIS, payments for your pharmaceutical benefits scheme, payments for pensions and unemployment benefits,” he said of the trains’ profits. “These people who decide to close all that down — I don’t know, they mustn’t be at work — so some of the social security that they’re living off has been paid for by that.”

“We are living in catastrophic climate collapse,” 24-year-old Emily told the ABC from the Hunter region on Monday. “So, I’m here, lying on a railway track. My arm is deep inside a pipe.

“If you think that my actions are extreme, if you think that this is crazy or too radical, then I don’t think you’re paying attention,” she said, referring to the collapse of life support systems at the hands of the fossil fuel industry.

Helmed by resistance group Blockade Australia, other events have seen their protestors suspend themselves from a coal rail line, bridges, and machinery that loads and unloads coal. “Threatening protestors with 25-year prison sentences for blocking coal trains without causing physical harm to anyone is a draconian overreach of police power,” they said on Tuesday. “Blockade Australia will continue to take sustained and disruptive action in response to Australia’s leading role in the climate and ecological crisis for as long as necessary.”

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean called the stunts “completely out of line” and claimed Blockade Australia was “risking the lives of rail workers” when interviewed on Sydney radio station 2GB. On Monday, Kean claimed that the recently concluded COP26 conference would make things more difficult for the coal industry’s finances moving forward, particularly for their insurance prospects and ability to raise operational funds.

So far, 17 people have been arrested at the Newcastle port.

Photo: Blockade Australia/Twitter