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Anti-coal activists are costing the economy millions of dollars by crippling the Hunter’s rail network with a series of stunts, including dangling themselves from ropes across the tracks and even parking a car in the way of freight trains.
Activist group Blockade Australia has claimed responsibility for at least eight closures of train tracks in the Hunter since Friday, with the group posting extensively about their actions on their Facebook page.
“Zelda” on top of a coal train in a hazmat suit. Picture: Facebook/Blockade Australia
The stunt shut down the coal port. Picture: Facebook/Blockade Australia
The actions of the group have drawn a fierce rebuke from Premier Dominic Perrottet, who said there were “many ordinary people who are just trying to earn a living who have been disrupted by this behaviour”.
“When protesters use disruptive tactics they put themselves at risk of harm and also put the police and emergency personnel responding to these incident in danger as well,” he said.
A car, fitted with metal bar, is parked across the rail line for more than two hours. Picture: Blockade Australia/Facebook
Jarrah Em Kay was arrested after barricading himself in a car parked on tracks at Sandgate. Picture: Blockade Australia/Facebook
Paul Scurrah, chief executive officer of rail freight operator Pacific National, said the protests had caused the cancellation of 20 of their services laden with coal and grain, with each service worth about $1 million in export value to the country.
“At a time when Australia needs to recover from the economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns, one of the most critical rail freight networks in this country – the Hunter Valley system – has been brought to a complete standstill because of dangerous protests from environmental extremists,” he said.
“These radicals not only put the safety of our train crews in great peril but their actions in the last 48 hours have led to 20 cancelled Pacific National rail services (notably coal and grain) to the Port of Newcastle.”
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