PRO-PALESTINIAN protesters disrupted operations at Port Botany on Tuesday night (21 November).
About 400 demonstrators gathered at the port to attempt to block the arrival of Calandra, a ship operated by Israeli shipping line Zim.
The group blocked entry to Hutchison Ports’ Sydney terminal, disrupting landside truck entry zones and the flow of cargo. Protesters also blocked access along Foreshore Road for a short time.
“In the interests of the safety of port users, Hutchison Ports Australia worked with all authorities, including from NSW Ports and NSW Police, and there was a minimal impact to the business,” a Hutchison Ports spokesperson told DCN.
“Operations are back to normal,” they said (on Wednesday 22 November).
New South Wales Police arrested 23 people at the “unauthorised” protest. The police operation began at about 1800; officers from specialist units including the Public Order, Riot Squad and Mounted Unit attended the scene.
“Approximately 400 people gathered near the boat ramp at Foreshore Road, before the group moved towards the intersection of Sirius and Foreshore Roads,” NSW Police said in a statement.
“Police issued a group move on direction, which was not complied with. The group continued to occupy Foreshore Road, blocking vehicle movement.
“Foreshore Road was subsequently closed in both directions, as police continued to issue move on directions to several members of the group.”
Police said a number of people refused directions, and the 23 people were arrested before everyone left the roadway at about 2100.
Those who were arrested were taken to several police stations, where they were charged over failure to comply with “move on” directions and over damage or disruption to a major facility.
Police inquiries into the incident are ongoing under Operation Shelter.
Zim operates to and from Australia on the Asia-Australia trade. The ship Calandra operates between Southern China and Australia on the China Australia Express (CAX) service.
A Zim spokesperson told DCN any attempt to disrupt the service harms the Australian trade and local customers.
“In recent weeks, some Zim ships have been targeted by pro-Hamas protestors in Australia,” the spokesperson said.
“These actions, intended to disrupt our commercial operations, are misguided, and we strongly condemn them, we collaborate with local authorities to prevent further occurrences.”
The spokesperson said that, despite the attempts to disrupt Zim’s operations, its vessels are operating without disruption.
“Zim and our employees are strong and resilient, and we will keep doing our utmost to serve out thousands of customers and keep the global supply chain moving.”
Container Transport Alliance Australia had cautioned following recent protests in Botany and Melbourne that the ship Calandra may be targeted in Australia.
The earlier protest in Port Botany on 11 November attempted to block the Zim vessel Contship Dax.
“The container logistics chain in Sydney is hurting,” CTAA wrote in a statement.
“The ultimate losers are the public through higher logistics costs, translating into higher pre-Christmas shelf prices during the cost-of-living crisis being felt by many Australians.
“Peaceful protests are fine, but blocking entrances to Port Botany terminals impacts directly on hard-working transport operators and their drivers who are just going about their lawful business to pick up the import cargoes and deliver the export cargoes that keep the NSW and Australian economies operating.”
On the other side of the Tasman, community protests are planned against “Israeli-connected container ships” at the Port of Auckland, according to the Maritime Union of New Zealand.
“The Contship Dax operated by Zim Integrated Shipping has already been the focus of protest action in Australian ports last week and the ship will be calling in New Zealand ports in the next week, including Tauranga, Auckland and Lyttelton,” the union said.
This story has been updated to include comment from Zim.