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Anti-coal activists disrupt Newcastle port

NSW police need to “throw the book” at anti-coal activists who have been staging controversial protests around the Port of Newcastle, Environment Minister Matt Kean says, adding the dramatic stunts are “completely out of line”.

The protesters have struck again, interrupting operations at the world’s largest coal port.

Two protesters on Tuesday night entered the port and attached themselves to a key piece of machinery that loads and unloads coal, shutting down the port.

“Pull your heads in – get out of the way and stop hurting other people going about their lives, running their businesses,” Mr Kean told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday.

“There are hundreds of of ways to make your views known and advocate for change but risking the lives of rail workers is definitely not one of them.”

Blockade Australia said the activists, named only as Zianna and Hannah, climbed to the top of machinery and suspended themselves out of reach.

“As dawn broke on the coal port the sound of machinery was interrupted as the two protesters used an intricate set up of ropes to manoeuvre themselves over the edge,” the activist group said in a statement.

Protests have disrupted the port and surrounding rail infrastructure in the past two weeks, prompting police to establish a strike force to crack down on the high-profile stunts.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the activists risked charges with potential jail sentences of up to 25 years after some locked themselves onto trains and tracks around the port to stop coal trains.

The NSW Crimes Act says a person is liable to be charged if they interfere with a railway or locomotive with the intention of endangering a person’s safety.

Acts with the intention of causing a derailment can result in sentences up to 14 years.

Protestor Zianna said she wanted “to challenge the ruling order of domination and exploitation that is buckling our life support systems”.

“We must create true decision making power over our lives through scaling up offensive direct action and resist injustice where power operates on the ground.

“It is now our duty to defend the biosphere that gives us life and to every person that Australia has forgotten and ignored.”

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