A MAN suspended himself over a rail bridge leading into the Port of Newcastle after a woman was charged for protests at the port overnight. The demonstrations mark the third consecutive day of Blockade Australia protests targeting east coast ports. Protesters have disrupted operations at the ports of Melbourne, Brisbane and Newcastle since Monday.

A live stream from Blockade Australia on Wednesday morning shows a 22-year-old man, Angus, attached to a monopole over a track, attempting to block access to the Port of Newcastle.

It comes just hours after another protester, named Grace, was arrested and charged over a demonstration at the port.  

“Grace, 18, has now been arrested after stopping operations at the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle by stealthily climbing to the top of a stacker-reclaimer – a crane-like machine that is five stories high,” Blockade Australia wrote in a Facebook post.

“Stacker-reclaimers are used to load coal onto ships for export. Grace glued herself onto the machine and said: ‘We are a relentless bunch of people. We will not stop until real action on climate is taken’.”

Protesters charged

NSW Police said in a statement that a woman was charged following an unauthorised protest at Newcastle overnight.

“About 8.30pm (Tuesday 20 June 2023), emergency services were called to Cormorant Road, Newcastle, following reports a woman had scaled a coal loader and glued herself to a railing,” police said.

“Officers attached to Newcastle City Police District attended, and with assistance from Police Rescue, the woman was removed safely from the structure and arrested about an hour later.

“She was taken to Waratah Police Station, where she was charged with enter/remain on etc major facility cause damage to facility, and enter inclosed non-agricultural lands serious safety risk.

“The 18-year-old from Canberra was refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court later today (Wednesday 21 June 2023).”

In a later update, NSW Police confirmed a man was also charged over an unauthorised protest in the Hunter region.

Police were called to train tracks near Branxton Railway Station at around 0350 after reports a man had suspended himself over the railway.

“Officers from Hunter Valley Police District attended, with assistance from Police Rescue, and the 22-year-old man was removed safely from the structure and arrested about 9.35am,” Police said.

“He was taken to Cessnock Police Station, where he was charged with cause obstruction to railway locomotive or rolling stock and enter enclosed non-agricultural lands serious safety risk.

“The man was refused bail to appear at Cessnock Local Court today, where he was granted conditional bail and is due to appear at Singleton Local Court on Thursday 13 July 2023.”

Rail disruptions

A spokesperson for the Australian Rail Track Corporation told DCN protest activity at the port of Newcastle over the past three days has caused minor disruptions to the Hunter Valley Rail Network, the coal network which connects to the port.

“The first incursion on Monday saw the network paused at Kooragang for approximately four hours as police and emergency services attended the site and removed the protestors,” the ARTC spokesperson said.

They said the protest on Monday resulted in 19 trains being delayed.

“The second incident between Allandale and Whittingham saw approximately 30 train services paused between approximately 3.45am and 10am this morning [21 June] as police and emergency services again attended and removed protestors.

“During this second period passenger services to Scone were cancelled.

“As safety is our number one priority when these incidents occur, ARTC inspects and assesses the track once protestors are removed to ensure services can resume running in a safe manner.

“On both occasions normal operations resumed with minimal impacts on scheduling.”

Melbourne and Brisbane blocked

Also on Wednesday morning, another protester, 20-year-old Niamh, abseiled off a Footscray Road bridge in an attempt to disrupt operations at the Port of Melbourne.

Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers told DCN the protester hanging from Shepherd Bridge was removed relatively quickly.

He said Melbourne demonstration did not cause as much disruption as the one on Tuesday, which impacted around 500 truck movements.

“Yesterday’s two and a half [hour] closure of the entrance to Webb Dock was much more disruptive, including for Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), the other tenants at Webb Dock (Tasmanian and car trades) and ACFS Webb Dock empty container depot,” Mr Chambers said.

“Again, our view is that the protests are mindless and directionless. It is simply hurting decent, hard-working transport logistics workers who are trying to go about their legitimate business.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Blockade Australia activist Naomi locked herself between two cars parked across a motorway leading into the Port of Brisbane.