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Anti-coal protestor charged after causing three hour traffic jam

Extinction Rebellion tripod protestor Rilka
Extinction Rebellion tripod protestor Rilka

An anti-mining demonstrator is being penalised for allegedly blocking a busy road and creating major gridlock for hours in southeast Queensland.

Queensland Police recently charged Extinction Rebellion activist Rilka with contravening a police direction and using a dangerous attachment device to block traffic in the inner Brisbane suburb of Milton.

Traffic chaos spans 11km

An image of the protest posted to social media shows the 29-year-old dangling high above the Pacific Motorway’s Hale Street on-ramp from three bamboo rods tied together as a tripod. She displayed a banner demanding “net zero emission by 2025”.

The media stunt began at about 7:45am and lasted for about three hours, creating extensive delays that spanned more than 11km to Mount Gravatt.

‘Lock her up’

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner became fed-up with activists shutting down the River City and ordered police to arrest Rilka.

“Enough is enough, lock her up,” he said on Twitter. “Huge delays as protester stunt stops traffic.”

After fire and rescue workers finished painstakingly removing the activist from the bamboo structure, police arrested the woman and detained her at the Brisbane Watch House. She was eventually released on bail and scheduled to appear before Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 7.

Fellow protestors defended Rilka’s civil disobedience by claiming it created discussion about climate change, and they encouraged others to sign-up for special training sessions in how to create more chaos.

“Disruption extended from Milton to Mt Gravatt and the climate and ecological crisis is on everybody’s lips in Meanjin (Brisbane),” an Extinction Rebellion Brisbane spokesperson said on Facebook.

“Rilka made a huge impact but we need to take action together if we want to get the change we need.”

Stop Adani activist Ben Winch
Stop Adani activist Ben Winch (centre bottom)

Adani activist locks himself

Stop Adani activist Ben Winch separately locked himself onto a cattle grid in Mount Coolum to protest against Adani Australia’s plan to drain water from the nearby Suttor River for the Carmichael Rail Project. Emergency crews took hours to safely cut the man free before he was finally taken into custody.

Adani revealed many protestors have tried and failed to prevent the Carmichael Coal Project from proceeding, and argued the full project has already incorporated multiple renewable energy sources.

Activists ‘unsuccessful’

“Over the past decade activists have unsuccessfully tried to use the Australian legal system to argue that Adani’s Carmichael Mine should not be approved because of the emissions created when coal is used to generate electricity overseas and the impact that would have on the Great Barrier Reef,” the company said in a public statement.

“The amount of carbon dioxide that will be produced will represent less than 0.04 per cent of Australia’s emissions and less than 0.0006 per cent of global emissions, which is not enough to have an impact on the Great Barrier Reef. The quality of coal from the Carmichael mine is better than the coal it will replace in the market, meaning it will produce fewer emissions when burnt.”

Alternative is worse

In comparison, certain types of coal from Indonesia can produce more than 28 per cent higher greenhouse gas emissions than Australian coal according to Adani.

“Denying other countries access to superior quality thermal coal like ours will not only disadvantage them environmentally, it will also mean that instead of jobs being created here in Queensland to mine our coal that those jobs will be exported to other countries at the expense of Queenslanders,” the proponent said.

“We already have more than 1500 Queenslanders working on the Carmichael project now. These jobs could not be more important at a time when people are struggling to get work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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