NSW Police are keeping a high profile on Sydney’s major roads and bridges after climate activists threatened to again disrupt the city and the police minister labelled them “professional pests”.
Ten Blockade Australia protesters were arrested in Sydney on Monday, including a 22-year-old woman who chained herself to the steering wheel of her car at the entrance to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
The activists, seven of whom were refused bail, face multiple obstruction and disruption charges and will appear in court on Tuesday.
Police Minister Paul Toole said it was infuriating.
“I’m furious. The public are furious,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday.
“These are professional pests.
“These people say that they are out there trying to actually protect the climate but yesterday what they were doing was littering all over Sydney.”
Blockade Australia spokesman Jonah Shabtay told AAP the protests were designed to demonstrate the effects of the collapse of the climate.
“(The protests are) really for making it quite known and unavoidable that disruption is going to come from climate collapse, in which Sydney’s economy is largely responsible,” he said.
“In order to respond to that we’re choosing to disrupt the city.”
Mr Shabtay said the group had moved away from its previous tactic of targeting ports and was focusing on roads in Sydney’s CBD.
“It’s essentially going to be traffic disruptions that we’ll see throughout the week.”
Protesters who disrupt major roadways, ports and railways can be charged with newly legislated penalties of up to two years in prison and a fine of $22,000.
Labor leader Chris Minns said it was not sustainable for the protesters to routinely bring Sydney to a standstill.
“We may have had women waiting to get to emergency departments, birthing centres to give birth to children, or (other) emergencies,” Mr Minns said on Monday.
The opposition leader also noted the new federal Labor government had committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and had ambitious interim targets for 2030.