Climate change activists blockaded a Sydney shipping terminal used to transport coal for the fifth consecutive day, with seven people now charged by police over the incidents.
New South Wales (NSW) Police announced an operation was underway early on Saturday morning, around 6.40 a.m., after a 29-year-old man suspended himself from the Botany Road bridge, disrupting road and rail traffic.
Police said they removed the man who had suspended himself over freight rail lines within 20 minutes of arriving at the scene, but two city-bound lanes of Botany Road remained closed to traffic until the operation concluded.
A police operation is underway in response to an unauthorised protest at Banksmeadow at 6.40am. A man – who had been suspended over freight rail lines – was removed within 20min. by Police Rescue. Two citybound lanes of Botany Rd will re-open once the operation concludes.
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) March 25, 2022
Seven protesters, not including the man arrested on Saturday, have now been charged for their involvement in the protests, which have been taking place on a daily basis since Tuesday.
On Thursday, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancelled the visas of two German climate change activists for their involvement in a similar incident.
“In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force,” Hawke said in a statement obtained by Sky News Australia.
“Families going about their business, driving to school or work, do not deserve to be disrupted by the attention-seeking stunts of unlawful protesters.
“Australians expect guests in our country to comply with our laws. Under the Morrison government, non-citizens who violate our laws will be considered for visa cancellation,” he said.
Three protesters will face Parramatta Local Court on Saturday after being arrested and charged on Friday for their parts in the protests.
NSW Police have launched a strike force to deal with further unauthorised protests, which have caused millions of dollars in lost economic value thus far.
The Strike Force will also carry out visible patrols around significant infrastructure in Sydney and will work with NSW Ports, and the port authority to prevent further disruptions.
In a statement from the group organising the protests, Blockade Australia, Saturday’s protester, identified only as Wenzel, said the only way to address the climate crisis was by hindering commercial operations.
The activist said “other methods of protest” didn’t work but that “direct action” did, expressing his anxiety about taking “collective action” on climate change.
The protests have sparked a beefed-up response from the NSW government, with the threat of two years in jail and $22,000 fines for disrupting traffic.
NSW Acting Premier Paul Toole on Thursday dubbed the protests “disgraceful,” while Greens MP David Shoebridge said the government’s response was a “politically motivated crackdown on legitimate political expression.”
AAP contributed to this report.