Blockade Australia outraged by activist’s jail sentence for disrupting Newcastle port

Blockade Australia outraged by activist’s jail sentence for disrupting Newcastle port

Blockade Australia outraged by activist’s jail sentence for disrupting Newcastle port

Key points
  • Blockade Australia has been protesting at Newcastle coal port for two weeks.
  • Some 30 people were arrested in connection with the protests.
  • Laura Davy is believed to be the first person to be sentenced to prison under anti-protest laws passed in 2022.
Blockade Australia activists say they are “outraged but not surprised” that one of their members has been sentenced to three months in prison for disruption at Newcastle port.
Members of the group have been disrupting operations at the port with actions including hanging themselves in harness to block the Hunter rail line for 14 days, totalling more than “100 hours” of disruption, a Blockade Australia spokesperson told SBS News.
More than 30 people have been arrested and more than 200 passenger trains and coal trains have been cancelled.
Laura Davy is the first person to be sentenced under tougher anti-protest laws introduced in New South Wales in 2022, Blockade Australia said.

The 21-year-old turned off a large machine known as a reclaimer-stacker at the port.

They are currently out of custody on a low-level good behaviour bond in Tasmania and will reportedly appeal.
In a statement from Blockade Australia, Davy said: “We are facing imminent climate breakdown.”
“In the past, I would just fall into a pit of despair and pain, just wishing someone would do something.

“I am a piece of that puzzle and we are all a piece of that puzzle. We can’t just sit in our beds reading the Doomscroll book feeling horrible. We can sit and watch the world around us fall apart or we can get up now and put our minds and bodies to work however we can and catch the pieces as they fall.”

NSW Police Minister condemns port closures

NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley said last week the group’s actions were “reckless” and had no place in New South Wales.
“This dangerous behavior not only puts the lives of workers and the public at risk, but also the lives of the police officers tasked with responding to it.”
The Australian Rail Corporation said more than 200 passenger trains had been cancelled since the protests began.
A Blockade Australia spokesperson said they were taking part in non-violent direct action.
“We are targeting critical infrastructure as a way to draw attention to the core of the problem, which we believe is the political and economic system of this country.

We believe that people like Laura should be celebrated, not imprisoned.

“We are outraged, but not surprised because we know that this is how the State responds to effective action.”
The spokesman said all those protesting knew they could be arrested and jailed and would not be deterred from continuing to protest following Davy’s sentencing.
In 2022, the New South Wales government enacted new laws to ban “unlawful protests,” which were criticized for stifling freedom of speech.

The Human Rights Law Centre said the laws are “undemocratic, disproportionate and violate international human rights law, in particular freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”