Climate protestors have closed down the Port of Newcastle for the day, with a peaceful blockade of coal loading facilities. The Port of Newcastle is the world's largest coal port, transferring coal mined in the Hunter valley for export. Hundreds of protestors gathered at Horseshoe Beach with many launching kayaks, canoes and small boats to blockade the harbour. Newcastle Port Corporation cancelled all ships coming into the harbour for the day due to safety concerns.
NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon who participated in the blockade organised by climate action group Rising Tide Australia, was reported in an AAP news report "These people sent a serious message that the government, if they are going to be serious about climate change, they must address the coal industry,"
"On average some eight vessels enter the port each day," she said. "So it has been a success. It is the fourth time this blockade has been held and each time it attracts plenty of support and we will continue with future peaceful actions if we think it's necessary."
Rising Tide spokeswoman Carly Phillips told the Newcastle Herald before the protest that "Australians are coming together to occupy the world's biggest coal port and this country's single biggest contribution to climate change," she said. "People are angry that State and Federal governments are overseeing a massive expansion of coal exports at a time when the industry needs desperately to be phased out."
Lee Rhiannon estimated 500 people participated in the peaceful blockade.
Background Interview: Carly Phillips speaking with Erin Smith on Community Radio 2SER's Razors Edge Program, March 18, 2009 - Blockade planned at the world's biggest coal port