Newcastle, 15 December: A peaceful blockade has halted the first train load of coal coming from the controversial Maules Creek coal mine on its way to Newcastle’s Kooragang Island coal export terminals this morning.
A group of 22 people met the train this morning. Eight people have occupied and stopped the train and are refusing to leave.
The train was stopped during the night and delayed for over 6 hours by a protestor who locked onto locomotives needed to push the coal over the Great Dividing Range. The 58 year-old protestor, Bruce, from Northern Rivers, has been arrested. Speaking about why he took action, Bruce said:
“Australia’s response to climate change is headed completely backwards. “If we can stop this new coal mine we set a precedent for the rest of Australia to stand up.”
Jonathan Moylan from Frontline Action on Coal said, “Over the last twelve months, hundreds of people have been arrested slowing down construction of the Maules Creek mine. The fate of our country, and people everywhere, depends on coal being left in the ground. In the absence of leadership from the industry or the Government to shut down coal exports and prevent dangerous climate change, ordinary people have taken extraordinary action to stop this mine.
“A growing number of people are standing up to the coal industry’s plans to ship increasing volumes of coal and fuel dangerous climate change. Doctors, people of faith, IPCC scientists and earlier this month, former Wallabies captain David Pocock, have all taken action to halt construction at Maules Creek. Even Malcolm Fraser last week tweeted about Maules Creek, referring to the coal sector as an ‘industry of a past age’.
Local Newcastle mother, Vanessa Wiebford said, “I want my daughter to have a future without the horror of extreme heat and fire, and uncertain water and food production. I am bitterly disappointed in Australia’s political leadership and their unthinking support for expanded coal exports at a time when we’re already seeing alarming signs of dangerous climate change.
“If they’re not going to act to prevent this, then all parents have a duty to risk arrest to try and stop it ourselves.
2014 is now expected to break the record as the hottest year in Australia’s history. Heatwave conditions were observed in many parts of the country during our hottest spring on record this year, and the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a return to El Nino conditions at a time when much of Queensland and parts of New South Wales are already drought declared.
The burning of coal exported from Australia is this country’s biggest single contribution to climate change, and production and export of coal increased in the last 12 months.
“With the international climate negotiations in Lima failing to deliver the scale of action needed, people around the world will next year have to take their future into their own hands like never before. Ordinary people are stepping up to do what it takes to stop the fossil fuel industry’s dangerous expansion plans,” said Moylan.
UPDATE 6:00 am: Coal train is stopped.
UPDATE 8:15 am: The five activists have been lower from atop the coal wagon by police.
UPDATE 9:00am: The coal train starts moving again after 3 hours at a stand still.
UPDATE 12:30pm: Four activists released after being processed at Waratah police station.
- On the ground: Jonathan Moylan: 0431 289 766 | Vanessa Wiebford: 0409 021 976
- Off-site: Charlie Wood: 0427 485 233
- Photos Available at: http://bit.ly/13nps8U