The Woman Who Blocked The Harbour Bridge Tunnel Has Appeared On ‘The Project’

Mali Cooper clashed with hosts Waleed Aly and Kate Langbroek after they labelled her actions "extremely divisive".

mali cooper the project

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Blockade Australia protester Mali Cooper appeared on Tuesday night’s episode of The Project to discuss the ongoing protests across Sydney after her arrest on Monday.

Cooper spent 30 hours in police custody after allegedly locking herself to her car steering wheel after blocking the entrance to the Sydney Harbour Bridge tunnel during peak hour traffic. She was one of ten protesters who were taken into police custody and was reportedly only released after agreeing to return to her home in Lismore and abide by a 10pm-6am curfew.

Following her release, Cooper appeared via livestream on The Project. “It’s been a really big few days but I’m glad to be out and to have had a chance to see my family and to be here to have this conversation,” she told the panel.

When asked how she was doing after 30 hours in custody, Cooper said she felt anxious and scared at the state of the world.

“Anxiety about the way that the world is going, a lot of fear about the way that we treat the planet and the fact that there are people who are determined to extract vast numbers of resources from this earth and the implications that has on all of us, as well as the fact that it is typically less privileged people who experience the impact of climate change and climate devastation that is happening now,” said Cooper.

Host Kate Langbroek questioned Cooper on how her actions would help the fight against climate change.

“Do you understand that people find you to be extremely divisive? You talk about privilege but the ultimate privilege would be you deciding when people could get to work or not,” Langbroek asserted.

Cooper — who lives in the flood-ravaged town of Lismore — acknowledged her privilege but stressed that it was important to be vocal to get climate action.

“I think there’s a bigger conversation we need to have about climate change and I think that not a lot of people get a chance to speak on national television about this really important situation that impacts all of us,” said Cooper. “And that I recognise my privilege in this world and I recognise that I have the privilege to be here talking to you and I think that is part of the reason why it is so important that I am here and I am having this conversation and that we open up the discussion about how we move forward and how we take steps to support our life systems and to support one another and to ensure that we take climate action because it is so important.”

Waleed Aly queried whether Cooper’s strategy was to get attention and get arrested for media publicity. “So Mali, if I’m hearing you correctly, are you saying that you take extreme, illegal, disruptive action in order to cause the chaos, get the focus, perhaps get arrested and then you will end up on television to be able to talk about it,” asked Aly. “Is that the strategy?”

Cooper denied that the end goal was TV publicity, but stressed that disruption and radical action is a proven way to get results when it comes to activism. When asked if she regrets her choices, Cooper noted that while she’s nervous for the outcomes of what the future holds, she doesn’t regret what she did.

“I don’t regret anything, though I do feel nervous about what the future holds. I don’t want to have to be in this position, I don’t want to have to be facing these things. I do understand the implications and the way forward and I think that it is so important in this critical time that we don’t stay silent and that people speak up and speak out.”