Report back - People's occupation of the world's biggest coal port (Australia)

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Coal blockade Australia

June 6, 2006

Despite miserable weather, over 70 citizens took to the water in Newcastle Harbour on World Environment Day 2006 (5th June) to occupy and protest the world’s biggest coal port. More than 100 supporters cheered from the shore, to show their opposition to the Hunter coal industry expansion, which will fuel runaway dangerous climate change.

The bright flags of the flotilla and the shore presence shone defiantly in the grey light, as the flotilla left Horseshoe Beach about midday. The boats paddled into the shipping channel, and occupied it for about 45 minutes. Without a coal ship in sight, and with rumours that the Port Corporation had fixed it so that no coal ships would use the channel all day, the flotilla dribbled back to shore.

However, at about 2pm,with a large crowd still gathered at the beach, the coal ship Glorious Wind loomed from the loader end of the channel, ready to carry its deadly cargo home to Japan. About 20 paddlers jumped back into their vessels and paddled out to obstruct the ship.

The paddlers re-entered the shipping channel, and were barged one by one back out again, by the heavy police presence on the harbour. One paddler had his paddle stolen by the police, and was left defenseless hardley 10 metres from the moving wall of steel. The channel was cleared, the police barricaded the paddlers out, and the Glorious Wind left the harbour.

The event was an historical and successful demonstration of the large and growing opposition to the rapacious coal mining and export industry of the Hunter and broader NSW. The community came out in force to show both state and federal governments, and the coal corporations ravaging NSW, that we have had enough. We will not allow them to go ahead with their plans to massively expand Hunter coal exports and fuel climate chaos. We are at a critical point in our history, when greenhouse gas pollution needs to be cut radically, and that means moving away from coal, starting now.

Thanks very much to everybody who came. There are some pictures from the day below, but we don't seem to have a decent one of the full flotilla on the water. If you have one, please send it!

There are some more pictures of the action and why blockaded Newcastle