Protester’s defiant response to $22k fine as another road blocked

·Environment Editor
·3-min read

Protesters are vowing to block roads and create disruptions across NSW despite threats of $22,000 fines and jail.

The NSW government is working to pass its controversial Roads and Crimes Amendment Bill through both houses of parliament, making it an offence to “enter, remain on, climb, jump on or otherwise trespass on a major road".

The move which has been supported by Labor, but opposed by the Greens and Animal Justice Party.

Traffic blocked by protesters holding Fireproof Australia signs
Protesters blocked a road in Sylvania on Friday. Source: Supplied / Fireproof Australia

In its latest action, activist group Fireproof Australia blocked peak-hour traffic in Sylvania, in Sydney's south, on Friday, demanding government action to tackle the climate crisis

Spokesperson Sam Noonan told Yahoo News Australia politicians are not rising to the challenge of protecting communities from extreme weather, so they are undertaking civil disobedience “as a last resort”.

“In historical terms massive changes are made when the people sort of rise up and take matters into their own hands,” she said.

Ms Noonan concedes the “great majority of people” won’t like their “drastic” tactics which she likens to a fire alarm.

“It's annoying, and it's irritating, and people don't particularly like it, but if it wasn't for that fire alarm, you wouldn't know there was an emergency,” she said.

“We are completely prepared for the fact that even some of the climate movement won’t appreciate what we're doing.”

Protester reveals why they are blocking roads

Even if the government's tough new laws are passed, Fireproof Australia confirmed they plan to create daily disruptions from Monday until their list of three demands are met.

  • Immediately re-home flood and bushfire survivors

  • Secure an Australian owned aerial firefighting fleet

  • Smoke-proof schools, aged care and disability facilities

Their non-violent tactics include sitting or lying on major roads and holding up protests signs to block traffic.

A protester is taken into police custody on Friday. Source: Supplied / Fireproof Australia
A protester is taken into police custody on Friday. Source: Supplied / Fireproof Australia

Ms Noonan said responses from motorists are “always mixed”, with some offering support and others becoming “agro”.

“(The aggression) is mainly verbal… Sometimes they will keep edging the car closer and closer to us,” she said.

“We treat it as an intimidation tactics and we just hold our ground and yeah, we've had occasionally banners taken off us, and we just let those go.”

Describing their actions as “not really something comfortable” for the protesters or motorists, Ms Noonan, who is a mother and grandmother, argues they have no choice.

She said members of the unaffiliated group are willing to go to jail, face thousands of dollars in fines, and the scorn of the general public.

“People are obviously very frustrated… but we figure in the bigger picture with the unnatural weather events such as the floods we've just had, and the bushfires, they’re getting steadily worse and worse,” she said.

“We are calling attention to that, and being a little bit obnoxious… because we just need the government to protect the country and get prepared for worsening emergency situations.”

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