NSW State Government announce tougher penalties for climate protestors who block roads/bridges - NSW Police Launch Strike Force Guard - federal government keeps Announcing pre-budget/pre-election billions for fossil fuel expansion - climate action strikes and actions persist
The NSW Government announced it will immediately put in place tougher regulations to crack down on illegal protests disrupting Greater Sydney on Thursday March 24, 2022.
The Roads Amendment (Major Bridges and Tunnels) Regulation 2022 will make it an offence to disrupt any bridge or tunnel across Greater Sydney. The regulation is made under s144G of the Roads Act 1993, but currently only applies to disruption on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The NSW Government will then bring legislation to Parliament to expand s144G beyond bridges and tunnels to roads and industrial and transport facilities more generally.
Section 144G carries a maximum penalty of 200 penalty units ($22,000) or imprisonment for two years, or both.
Acting Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said these measures were critical to deter future illegal protests across Sydney.
“The penalties currently in place have clearly not deterred protestors who continue to block roads across Sydney, disrupting transport networks, freight chains, production lines and everyday commuters getting to work or to school – and it can’t keep happening,” Mr Toole said.
“Unauthorised protests have no place in our State, and these tighter laws and tougher penalties we’re introducing prove we have zero tolerance for this selfish, disruptive and unruly behaviour.”
Attorney General Mark Speakman said it was essential to quickly expand the existing regime.
“Following the events of recent days, I worked with Minister Ward to urgently review existing laws. We are strengthening them to deter mayhem being inflicted upon ordinary citizens,” Mr Speakman said.
Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said the change to the regulation will ensure there are severe penalties for future protestors looking to block bridges and tunnels across Greater Sydney.
“Protestors who stop daily commuters getting to work in the morning and home in the afternoon put themselves and drivers at risk and have no place on NSW roads,” Mrs Ward said.
“Under these changes, protestors who block major routes including the Spit Bridge and the Western Distributor will now face harsher penalties, aligned to the disruption they create across the road network.”
The announcement follows on from actions taken by Fireproof Australia, which in recent weeks has blocked The Spit bridge and passageway on February 22nd and March 14th 2022.
Samantha Noonan, a legally blind grandparent who took art in the February 22nd sit in on the road said then:
''We have a duty to act because our leaders refuse to do the job of Fireproofing Australia. We are carrying out this act of civil resistance in order to force the federal government to address our three reasonable demands to protect their citizens and Fireproof Australia by:
1. Securing a sovereign air tanker fleet to fight fires
2. Installing effective air filters in schools, aged care and disability facilities
3. Rehoming bush fire survivors and ensuring that no one is left behind – more than two years in tents and caravans is too long.''
Samantha Noonan at February The Spit protest. Photo: Fireproof Australia
The Protestors on The Spit were arrested and fined on both occasions, five after the February protest and ten after the March protest.
''Three people will face court today charged after protest activity blocked traffic on Sydney’s North Shore this morning.'' NSW Police stated on March 14th.
''About 8.30am (Monday 14 March 2022), police were called to Spit Road near Parriwi Road, Mosman, after reports protestors were allegedly lying across the road, blocking traffic. Officers from North Shore Police Area Command attended and removed seven people from the roadway. An additional three people - a 32-year-old man and two women, aged 31 and 68 - refused to comply with police directions.
All three were arrested and taken to Manly Police Station where they were charged with refuse/fail to comply with direction under Part 14 and wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel.
They will appear before Manly Local Court today (Monday 14 March 2022).'' NSW Police said in a statement.
Since then the group has expanded their focus to those being impacted by floods and delivered ruined property from the Lismore floods to the Prime Ministers' residence in Sydney, Kirribilli House, on Monday March 21, 2022.
‘’Fireproof Australia is a politically unaffiliated group of ordinary citizens calling on our federal government to respond urgently to the climate crisis by rehoming the survivors of floods and fires and securing an Australian-owned large aerial tanker fleet.’’ the group says
''Fireproof Australia is made up of ordinary people that have suffered from the fires [and] who are beyond appalled by the government’s lack of care for its citizens. Fireproof Australia members feel the government has betrayed all of us by not enacting the recommendations of the Bushfire Royal commission including securing an Aussie owned and operated large aerial tanker fleet to fight fires. They’ve abandoned the bushfire survivors, hard-working volunteer fireys across the country and everyone who choked on smoke during Black Summer.''
''Fireproof Australia is going to block Sydney’s major roads consistently and non-violently, week after week until the government meets our reasonable demands. We call upon fellow concerned Aussies to join us.''
Monday March 21, 2022: Lismore flood affected people dump remains of their homes on Scott Morrison's front door. Photo: Fireproof Australia
During the February 2022 Fireproof Australia The Spit protest Jason Falinski, MP for Mackellar, commented on Radio 2GB:
''Mate, we never used to have this sort of politics on the northern beaches, but since the Climate 200, Simon Holmes a Court’s mob, has announced that they’re going to run candidates in places like the northern beaches, we’ve just got this sort of extreme form of politics with people who don’t care about working Australians, don’t care about families just trying to get their kids to school. And, as you say, in the middle of a train strike when traffic is already bad, to do this is literally unforgivable.
And furthermore, you know, this is one of the most congested roads in Sydney. I can’t understand what goes through your head to think this is the way to make your point.’’
Trains have never run over The Spit – there were some trams up until 1939 when these were cancelled by the then state government, when, at the same time, they took over the local privately owned and run bus routes and the buses associated with these, which were then made the public transport for residents. These were, in turn, privatised again by another NSW state government, with a contract awarded to Keolis Downer. in 2021.
Zali Steggall, MP for Warringah, commented the next day, February 23rd;
''This was dangerous protest, especially given the weather conditions. If you care about climate change, it is much more powerful to get involved in politics in your community. Supporting representatives who will act on climate change is our best shot at nationwide solutions that will really make a difference.
Might I add that it was deliberately misleading of Jason Falinski to suggest that the people who blocked the Spit Bridge have anything to do with Climate 200. He's clearly scared of what a climate-concerned independent like Dr Sophie Scamps means for his hold on power. Maybe he should have crossed the floor to vote in favour of my Climate Change Bill, or the Stopping PEP11 Bill that his community was overwhelmingly in favour of?’’
Fireproof Australia aren't the only group taking it to the streets. Another group, Blockade Australia, which has been focused on coal operations in the Hunter Valley and around Newcastle, has also started actions within Sydney.
On Thursday March 24 the NSW Police announced they had charged two women following an unauthorised protest at Port Botany the day before, March 23rd. About 5.40pm (Wednesday March 23 2022), officers attached to Eastern Beaches Police Area Command responded to reports of two vehicles parked on Penrhyn Road, Port Botany, which were blocking the entrance to the container terminal in both directions.
One of the protestors – a 71-year-old woman – was sitting in one of the trucks with a bike lock secured to herself and the steering wheel. The second protestor – a 57-year-old woman – was sitting on top of the second truck.
Police spoke to the two women before they were arrested and taken to Maroubra Police Station. Following inquiries, both women were charged with encourage the carrying on operation for commission of crime, not obey direction of police/authorised person and wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel.
They were given conditional bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on Wednesday April 20th 2022.
The day before a man was charged following an unauthorised protest at Port Botany this morning.
About 6.20am (Tuesday 22 March 2022), emergency services were called to Bumborah Point Road near the intersection of Friendship Road, Port Botany, following reports a group had gathered in the area, including a man who had suspended himself from a pole. Police have been told a 23-year-old man attended Simblist Road, Port Botany, and allegedly disrupted the free-flow of traffic.
The man allegedly secured a ten-metre pole to the road and attached himself to the top of the pole using rope. Officers attached to Eastern Beaches Police Area Command attended, removed the man from the pole and arrested him.
The man was taken to Maroubra Police Station where he was charged with pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path and not obey direction of police/authorised person. He was granted conditional bail and he too will appear before Waverley Local Court on Wednesday April 20th 2022.
On Thursday March 24th another man Alex Pearse (33) suspended himself off a monopole blocking all trains running to and from the Port of Botany. This is the third consecutive day Blockade Australia has shut down this continent's largest container port.
Alex says, “Australia is a rigged system doing exactly what it was designed to do: exploit people and extract resources from this continent."
“We are facing a climate catastrophe. I have worked in environmental science for 12 years and during that time I have seen no credible action on climate. I am taking direct action because without a halt to business as usual there will be no true change”.
“Our economic and political system is designed to isolate us, promoting individualism while destroying community. I’m asking all of you to join me and Blockade Australia in creating the systemic change we need for survival.”
Mr Pearse was also arrested.
Alex Pearse being removed from Botany protest site, March 24, 2022, prior to being charged. Photo: Blockade Australia
Blockade Australia states; ''Blockade Australia coordinates mobilisations at economic bottlenecks and centres of political power. These mobilisations use centralised, sustained and disruptive action to force the urgent broad-scale change necessary for survival. Action that generates social, political and economic disruption cannot be ignored. It creates political leverage that is needed to make real change. This requires stepping outside of the rules and regulations which maintain and protect Australia’s destructive operations.
The climate collapse threatens all life on earth. The only chance we’ve got of creating a liveable future is by uniting in solidarity and using our collective power to fight for climate justice. Remaining divided risks everything. Blockade Australia is non exclusive and values collaboration, skill and information sharing. Discrimination, dominating behaviours and aggression towards each other or the public is not accepted. The system is the issue, not the people in it.''
''Corporate and institutional power is driving the climate crisis and blocking climate action. Australia plays a leading role in organising this destruction. Blockade Australia is a coordinated response to that and aims to develop a culture of effective resistance through strategic direct action.''
The Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) (the Act) is the NSW legislation that contains local summary offences, which are crimes that are considered minor and can therefore be dealt with in a summary manner, meaning before a magistrate in the NSW Local Court. Part 4 of the Act contains the laws governing public assemblies, including how a protest organiser is able to have their demonstration considered a legal public assembly. Section 22 of the Act defines a public assembly as “an assembly held in a public place, and includes a procession so held”.
For a public assembly to be authorised, section 23 stipulates that written notice addressed to the NSW police commissioner must be submitted beforehand. The documentation has to provide the details of the protest or event, along with the expected number of participants. Commonly known as a Form 1, the Notice of Intention to Hold a Public Assembly is the document that needs to be provided to police and it outlines the necessary details. The notice should be submitted at least seven days before a scheduled assembly, and if no opposition is voiced by the commissioner, then it is legal.
If these procedures are followed correctly, then section 24 of the Act provides that participants in an approved public assembly cannot be found guilty of the offence of taking part in an unlawful assembly. [1.]
Protests against fossil fuels mining grow
Most state that the right to protest peacefully is a defining feature of liberal democracy. Protests can be on a diverse range of contentious issues, although in recent times the mining of coal and coal seam gas has been a particular focus of protest activity. In response to these protests, which have often seen protesters climb and “lock on” to mining equipment and freight trains, the Baird Government introduced additional legislation to deter such action.
The 2016 Baird ministry introduced the Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016, despite opposition from more than 60 percent of NSW residents. This bill created a new offence called "aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands." This meant protesters found interfering with business on "land in which a business or undertaking is being conducted" now faced fines of $5500 and seven years in prison for chaining themselves to mining machinery, as would farmers if they lock their gate and bar CSG companies from drilling on their property.
This bill was written to support the fracking and coal mining industry being interfered with by objecting New South Wales people, particularly those whose farmlands were alongside and whose water was being taken or poisoned.
In the March 2016 statement announcing the changes, then Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts, stated these changes to help the CSG and Coal Industry would also include;
''Removing limitations to allow Police to give directions in public places to prevent obstructions of persons or traffic for a demonstration, protest, procession or organised assembly under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.''
This bill was Assented to on March 22nd, 2016.
At the same time, the Mining Legislation Amendment (Harmonisation) Regulation 2016 under the Mining Act 1992 reduced fines for mining companies that were previously liable for up to $1.1 million for operational misconduct, such as mining without authority - and became $5000 for corporations under those modifications.
Following on from these changes a May 2017 Audit Office of NSW 'Mining Rehabilitation Security Deposits' report found that;
''While there have been substantial increases in total deposits held, mine rehabilitation security deposits are still not likely to be sufficient to cover the full costs of each mine's rehabilitation in the event of a default.''
Since then the series of School Strikes 4 Climate have become a nationwide and global phenomenon.
They join a gamut of volunteer organisations and individuals stretching back to Australia's 1950's and 1960's - people who have put themselves in the way of any destruction of our environment and its wildlife through protest.
The legal basis of the right to protest in NSW is the common law right to peaceful assembly, which can be traced back to the Magna Carta. The right is further protected by the Australian Constitution under the implied freedom of political communication.
Although it is unlikely, even without the state government's announcement, any Police Commissioner would grant permission for a protest to be held on a main road during peak hour, the federal government's recent announcements may inspire more of the same.
On Monday March 14, 2022 Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Minister for Resources Kevin Pitt announced the government would use a little-known section of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to establish what are known as regional plans, and exempt certain developments – such as mining or agriculture – from the requirement to gain individual federal environmental approval in areas covered by a plan (EPBC: Division 3—Actions covered by Ministerial declarations and bioregional plans - Subdivision A—Effect of declarations - 37 Actions declared by Minister not to need approval; A person may take an action described in a provision of Part 3 without an approval under Part 9 for the purposes of the provision if: (a) the action is an action, or one of a class of actions, declared by the Minister under section 37A not to require approval under Part 9 for the purposes of the provision (because the taking of the action is in accordance with a particular bioregional plan); and (b) the declaration is in operation when the action is taken; and (c) the action is taken: (i) in the bioregion to which the plan applies; and (ii) in accordance with the plan.).
This had been preceded on March 4th by the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor announcing changes would be made to the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). A new 'initiative' will allow fixed delivery contract holders to be released from delivery obligations and allow them to sell Accus at a higher price on the private market. The announcement triggered a plunge in prices on the market for Australian carbon credit units (Accus), and prompted participants to seek legal advice over an intervention that handed some investors in taxpayer-funded schemes a $1billion-plus windfall by allowing them to cash credits out early.
“This reckless market intervention by Mr Taylor undermines the integrity of the carbon market in Australia and will slow the adoption of new emissions reduction measures,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said in response to the announcement.
“This does nothing to reduce emissions or increase carbon sequestration – it is an accounting trick that will enrich carbon traders. Today’s creative accounting by the Morrison Government is equivalent to almost the entire annual emissions of NSW. ” Mr Gambian said. “Instead, the government has delivered a $2.6 billion windfall to carbon traders, at the expense of the integrity of the market and our emissions reduction goals.”
On Thursday March 24th an Australia Institute report was released which states the Federal government side-lined independent experts and consulted "almost exclusively" with fossil fuel companies and big emitters on rules making carbon capture and storage projects eligible for emissions reduction credits.
The Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction announced on March 22nd 2022 ''The Morrison Government is accelerating priority gas infrastructure projects that will protect Australia from potential energy shortages;
''Under the Future Gas Infrastructure Investment Framework Expression of Interest process launched last year, an additional $50.3 million will be invested in seven priority projects, as well as key carbon capture and storage infrastructure.''
Natural gas is a fossil fuel. When refined and burned, natural gas can produce 25–30% less carbon dioxide per joule delivered than oil, and 40–45% less than coal. It can also produce potentially fewer toxic pollutants than other hydrocarbon fuels. However, compared to other major fossil fuels, natural gas causes more emissions in relative terms during the production and transportation of the fuel, meaning that the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions are about 47 % higher than the direct emissions from the site of consumption.
In terms of the warming effect over 100 years, natural gas production and use comprises about one fifth of human greenhouse gas emissions, and this contribution is growing rapidly. Globally, natural gas use emitted about 7.8 billion tons of CO2 in 2018 (including flaring), while coal and oil use emitted 14.7 and 12.4 billion tons, respectively. In 2019 45 megatonnes of methane was released. According to an updated version of the Special Report on Emissions Scenario, by 2030 natural gas would be the source of 11 billion tons a year because demand is increasing 1.9% per year.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere.
On June 8th 2021 Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor picked six carbon capture, use and storage projects to receive a total of $50 million taxpayer dollars; Santos: Up to A$15 million towards the capture and storage of CO2 emitted from the company's Moomba LNG operations for permanent storage in the Cooper Basin, Mineral Carbonation International: Up to A$14.6 million towards the construction of a mobile demonstration plant that captures and uses CO2 to produce manufacturing and construction materials, Energy Developments: Up to A$9 million towards the capture and use of CO2 emitted from the production of biomethane at landfill sites, Corporate Carbon Advisory: Up to A$4 million towards Australia's first demonstration direct-air-capture and storage project for geologically sequestering CO2 in an existing injection well in Moomba, and Boral: Up to A$2.4 million towards a pilot-scale CCUS project to improve the quality of recycled concrete, masonry, and steel slag aggregates at New Berrima, New South Wales.
The Australia Institute stated in August 2021 that about $4 billion of taxpayer money has been spent on CCS. HSBC reported in January 2021 40 megatonnes of CO2 are captured and stored annually, globally, equivalent to about 0.1 per cent of our current emissions.
There are no currently-operating large-scale CCS projects in Australia. Despite multiple CCS demonstration projects at Australian coal-fired power stations, none of Australia's coal plants are currently capturing CO2 or have a time frame for doing so. Australian Treasury modelling finds that CCS is not expected to be commercially viable until the 2030s.
Interestingly, the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, on March 17, was claiming credit for Australia’s renewables surging to new highs in 2021.
''The Clean Energy Regulator’s Quarterly December 2021 Carbon Market Report (QCMR) shows, on average, almost one-third of all electricity generated in the National Electricity Market in 2021 came from renewable energy sources, double what it was in 2017. '' that March 17 statement reads - ''This comes off the back of a fifth consecutive year of record-breaking rooftop solar PV installations with 3.2 GW of capacity installed in 2021 – five times the installed capacity in 2017. Investment in large wind and solar power stations also trended up for the second year in a row to 2.9 GW.''
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Australia continues to lead the world in rooftop solar uptake with one in three Australian households (excluding high density apartments) having a PV system. “Australia now has more solar generation capacity per person than any country in the world, and more wind and solar than any country outside of Europe,” Minister Taylor said.
The increase in renewables has been driven by state governments and those voluntarily investing in new renewables projects. The number of households investing in rooftop solar likewise grew significantly in 2021, with Clean Energy Regulator data showing an average of more than 1,000 new systems were installed each day, taking the total number of rooftop solar PV installations past 3 million.
On Monday March 21st the Australia Institute announced they will be running commercials from Sunday March 27 to disclose the Morrison ministry's track record. The Australia Institute states it also exposes the false solutions to climate change currently perpetrated by the fossil fuel industry. The initiative builds on research by the Australia Institute showing that dodgy carbon credits and dirty hydrogen are actually expanding the demand for gas and coal.
Key Details include:
- Research shows that at least 25% of Australian carbon credits are hot air. Rather than review existing issues with carbon credits the Federal Government has a mandate to boost supply to the market.
- Boosting supply of affordable carbon credits means the fossil fuel industry can increase production while claiming to ‘offset’ some of their emissions.
- The Federal Government has invented the term ‘Clean Hydrogen’ to include genuine zero-emissions hydrogen made from renewable energy, and from fossil fuels (a high polluting process)
- The Federal Government had selected so-called ‘Clean Hydrogen’ and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as two of its five priorities in its Low Emissions Technology Statement.
- The unsuccessful technology CCS can now earn Australian carbon credits and is being used to justify investing in fossil fuel hydrogen, in the hope of burying some of the emissions with CCS
“We are entering the great era of carbon fraud. Instead of rushing to end fossil-fuels, there is going to be a gold rush for false solutions: dodgy carbon credits being used to offset pollution, dirty hydrogen and costly carbon capture and storage,” said Richie Merzian, Climate and Energy program director at the Australia Institute. “There is something quite sinister in pushing so-called solutions to climate change which actually enable more fossil fuels; the intentionally misnamed ‘clean hydrogen’ is the best example.
“When a zero-emissions hydrogen is available right now, it boggles the mind why the Federal Government insists on supporting hydrogen made from gas and coal – a process that is more high polluting than simply burning the gas and coal directly.
“Ensuring Australia’s carbon credits system has integrity, and that the rush to hydrogen is based on genuine zero-emissions hydrogen – made with renewable energy not fossil fuels – is going to be key if Australia is to meet the climate challenge.
The Morrison ministry is making a number of pre-Budget and pre-Election announcements, all of which are about the coalition's intention to keep expanding the production of fossil fuels or finagling environment laws for new mines so these may proceed, and putting these in place before citizens get to vote.
Before the last federal election many claimed this would be a vote on taking action on climate change and the federal government's inaction on the same. However, voters were scared into worrying about how they'd pay their mortgage or rent if they didn't vote for the coalition, so they did.
Since then thousands have been made homeless, and are homeless still, from the 2019/2020 bushfires and the recent record level floods along the east coast, including people in our area. They have lost everything.
“Australians across all voting intentions understand that not only is climate change happening, it’s happening right now,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Director at The Australia Institute this week.
“Our research shows landslide support across all voting intentions for a National Risk Assessment and a National Adaptation Plan. The question for the Government is why they have never assessed Australia’s vulnerability to climate change. This Government is more focused on peddling false climate solutions like dirty hydrogen and dodgy carbon offsets than they are on helping Australians prepare for climate impacts like floods and bushfires. There is clear support for a National Climate Disaster Fund, so that those profiting from fossil fuels help contribute to the climate impacts, rather than disaster-stricken communities who are currently bearing the brunt.
“So-called once in 100-year disasters like the devastating recent floods and the catastrophic Black Summer bushfires are becoming all too frequent. How many once in a generation climate disasters do we have to bear before we accept the climate has changed. While it keeps its head in the sand, the Federal Government remains woefully unprepared to deal with the reality of climate change.
“Voters are clearly asking themselves how many climate-fuelled disasters are they prepared to endure before they demand a Federal Government that implements legitimate climate policies for disaster preparedness and emissions reduction.” Mr. Merzian stated
On March 24 2022 the federal government based Clean Energy Regulator released the 2020-21 safeguard facility reported emissions data. In 2020-21, 212 safeguard facilities reported a total of 136.9 million tonnes CO2-e covered emissions. The big emitters listed are all coal and gas mines.
NSW State Government Announces Launch of NSW Police Strike Force Guard to Target Protestors
On the same date the NSW State Government announced its intention to crackdown on climate protestors that disrupt roads/rails and bridges Acting Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole announced the NSW Police Force has launched a proactive strike force to prevent, investigate and disrupt unauthorised protests across the state.
The NSW Police Force had responded to four unauthorised protests designed to disrupt commercial activity in the Port Botany area, which were stated in this announcement to have caused significant economic damage. Five people – three men and two women – who are all members of the same protest group, Blockade Australia, had been arrested and charged with a range of offences by the time 'Strike Force Guard' was announced as part of the crackdown package.
Blockade Australia also block passageways - to trains carrying coal.
“NSW Police has launched Strike Force Guard to proactively investigate and target those involved in the planning and facilitation of this type of protest activity, in addition to current operations,” Mr Toole said.
“I have been clear from the start; we will not stand for this kind of blatant disregard for the law and its impact on the livelihoods of all workers and business owners impacted by these foolish acts.
“Strike Force Guard will ensure Police are always one step ahead of the protesters to make sure we crack down on this economic vandalism.”
Strike Force Guard will include general duties officers and detectives from Central Metropolitan Region, analysts from State Intelligence Command, operatives from Operations Support Group and the Public Order and Riot Squad, and specialist officers from Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, PolAir, Marine Area Command and Police Rescue.
In in addition to monitoring and responding to unauthorised protest activity, Strike Force Guard officers will also conduct intelligence-driven taskings, including highly visible patrols around significant infrastructure across Sydney. Police will work with NSW Ports, Port Authority NSW and other stakeholders to prevent further disruptions to business and the community, the announcement states.
Central Metropolitan Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter, said police will continue to use the full force of the law to target those involved in this criminal activity.
“These protests are intended to create significant disruptions to trade and commerce, which has so far been minimised by the swift response of police,” Assistant Commissioner Cotter said. “It is the reckless activities, like dangling over the water or railway tracks that cause the greatest concern. These people are putting themselves – and those tasked to rescue them – in dangerous situations and it will not be tolerated. Further, police will take action against anyone engaged in activity that impacts on or hinders the ability for the community to go about their lives.”
Blockade Australia members aged from their 20's to 60's have taken actions every day since this announcement, on the Botany line, and been arrested, and charged.
A School Strike for Climate Change on 'Election Matters' proceeded on Friday March 25th outside Kirribilli House, with a large crowd of Australians, mostly young, attending - including young citizens from Lismore. They were joined by youngsters and their parents in similar actions all around Australia.
No one was arrested.
Unfortunately the Prime Minister had to leave to attend to Prime Ministerial duties 2 hours before their widely broadcast time for arrival.
The School Strike 4 Climate [Action] also widely broadcast the focus for the Friday March 25th strike - this reads:
Despite the clear science they continue to accept huge political donations from the Fossil Fuel Industry and ignore the policy needed to protect our futures, protect first nations lands and protect our environment. At this strike we are calling Politicians to fight for #PeopleNotProfit and we are demanding an end [to] fossil fuel handouts & political donations as well as continuing to demand;
1. Net Zero by 2030 which means no new coal, oil or gas projects.
2. 100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030
3. Fund a Just Transition and Job Creation for all Fossil Fuel Workers and their communities
At the School Strike at Kirribilli. Photo: Australian Parents for Climate Action
The concept of the government having a 'duty of care' also featured at the 2022 Elections Matters School Strike 4 Climate.
In tort law, a duty of care is a legal obligation which is imposed on an individual, requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence. The claimant must be able to show a duty of care imposed by law which the defendant has breached. In turn, breaching a duty may subject an individual to liability. The duty of care may be imposed by operation of law between individuals who have no current direct relationship (familial or contractual or otherwise) but eventually become related in some manner, as defined by common law (meaning case law). Duty of care may be considered a formalisation of the social contract, the implicit responsibilities held by individuals towards others within society. It is not a requirement that a duty of care be defined by law, though it will often develop through the jurisprudence of common law.
On March 15 2022 the federal court ruled unanimously that Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley does not have a duty of care to protect young people from the harms of climate change. The ruling overturned a previous landmark win in July 2021 by eight high school students, who sought to stop Ley approving the Whitehaven Vickery coal mine expansion in New South Wales.
Ms Ley approved the coal mine extension on September 16, 2021, arguing her decision wouldn’t contribute to global warming because even if the mine was refused, other nations would step in to meet the coal demand. Although this sounds like a fit of pique and 'may as well be us' and 'look what you made me do', the judges reasons included that the control of emissions and the protection of the public from personal injury caused by the effects of climate change were not roles that the Parliament entrusted to the minister under current laws.
One judge ruled climate change as a matter for government to address, not the courts, stating the duty would be an issue “involving questions of policy (scientific, economic, social, industrial and political) […] unsuitable for the Judicial branch to resolve”.
A second stated there was insufficient “closeness” and “directness” between the minister’s power to approve the coal mine and the effect this would have on the children. He left open the possibility of a future claim if any of the children in the class action 'suffered damage'.
The third judge had three main reasons; 1; the EPBC Act doesn’t create a duty-of-care relationship between the minister and children, 2; establishing a standard of care isn’t feasible as it would result in “incoherence” between the duty and the minister’s functions, 3; it’s not currently foreseeable that approving the coal mine extension would cause the children personal injury, as the law is understood.
The original case made landmark rulings about the dangers of climate change, the judge finding one million of today’s Australian children are expected to be hospitalised due to heat stress, will experience substantial economic loss, and when they grow up the Great Barrier Reef and most eucalypt forests won’t exist.
According to the judge, this harm was “reasonably foreseeable”.
David Barnden, principal lawyer at Equity Generation Lawyers, who acts on behalf of the teenagers, stated they would review the judgment carefully and consider the next steps.
“Independent climate change experts established that Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine will create a risk of personal injury and death to young Australians. The science has not changed. Irrespective of today’s decision, adults should do all they can to create a safe future for our children,” Mr. Barnden said.
1. Retrieved from: https://nswcourts.com.au/
At Kirribilli House, March 25, 2022. Photo: School Strike 4 Climate