The climate activists who have brought large areas of Sydney to a standstill in recent days are planning to roll out their protests nationwide.
A spokesperson for Blockade Australia believes the message is “get through” to the general public and said a national expansion was in the pipeline after the next three days of protests are completed.
In an interview with news ideas, the group’s spokesperson described their actions as “the most important thing we can do” and revealed that the group was inspired by direct action that shut down coal mines.
Here’s what you need to know about the group and its goals.
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Who is Blockade Australia?
Blockade Australia serves as the name of the group and a call to action.
It describes itself as a network of people passionate about climate justice and will do everything it can to bring the topic of climate crisis into public discussion.
The spokesperson, who requested anonymity, said Blockade Australia was established in early 2021.
“Blockade Australia started in early 2021, when people came together, looking at the political and environmental context and seeing and recognizing the seriousness of a climate crisis,” they said.
The group was inspired by the direct action that had been used to shut down coal mines and various extraction projects and wanted to take that stance to “close” critical areas such as Sydney’s CBD.
What are his goals?
Blockade Australia’s statement of purpose aims to take action that “cannot be ignored” by the general public or relevant governments.
Blockade Australia is a coordinated response that aims to develop a culture of effective resistance through direct strategic action.
“This requires us to step outside the rules and regulations that sustain and protect Australia’s destructive operations.”
Blockade Australia has taken a similar route to Extinction Rebellion, which wreaked havoc in Melbourne’s CBD as protesters clung to roads and blocked tram tracks.
On Monday morning, a Blockade Australia protester made headlines when they used their car to block the entrance to the Sydney Harbor Tunnel, using a bicycle lock to secure themselves to the vehicle’s handlebars.
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It’s extreme action – and certainly disruptive. But the spokesman said the group hoped the interruptions caused by the weeks-long protests would lead the public to recognize the seriousness of the cause.
“We want the public to recognize Australia’s inadequate response and recognize Blockade Australia, which is taking direct action in a sustainable, centralized, organized manner.”
The protests intrigued the public, with the term’ Blockade Australia’ becoming the Monday’srd Google search term .The spokesperson was optimistic when asked whether the group thought its message was received.
“To a lot of people, it seems to cut through and come across as positive,” they said.
“And there’s been a big shift that I’ve noticed recently within the environmental movement, and within the media, in the way they frame Blockade Australia and direct action.”
What makes the protests so controversial?
Blockade Australia’s demonstrations have been furiously received by Sydney commuters, New South Wales Police, and the state government.
Unlike previous climate protests, this week was not organized with the police or relevant authorities.
In a shocking turn of events on Monday, a member of the public drove his car through the group’s protests in the CBD. Fortunately, no one was injured.
NSW Police Secretary Paul Toole lashed out at the protesters, calling them “professional pests” and saying they should “get a real job”.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet echoed his sentiments, calling the protesters “stupid, divisive, disrespectful” in a 2GB interview.
“They are fucking idiots who will face the full force of the law,” the prime minister said.
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Before the protest, the state government stepped up anti-protest laws, increased fines, and raided the group’s Sydney camp to prevent Blockade Australia from taking to the streets.
Dozens of protesters have been arrested since Monday, including the Sydney Harbor Tunnel protester, with many still incarcerated and facing jail time.
The spokesman said police efforts would do little to slow them down.
“You Takingmate action is a very important, real task. Probably the most important thing we can do,” they said.
“They have changed the laws in anticipation of this mobilization, it seems… They will do what they can to stop us [from taking] action. But we cannot afford to stop fighting for a better world.”
What are the group’s future plans?
So far, the group’s protests have been confined to NSW.
But the movement’s spokesman revealed it wants to hold its demonstrations nationwide.
They said that while the group has no concrete plans, there have “certainly been those considerations”.
“There will certainly be ways for people from all states to participate in the project and get involved,” they said.
“That is certainly part of the plans, but there are no specific actions [in place]†