22-year-old Blockade Australia climate activist sentenced to 12 months in prison


A 22-year-old climate activist who tried to block coal trains in Newcastle harbor has been sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Eric Serge Herbert will serve at least six months in prison after being convicted yesterday by the Newcastle local court.

Herbert was first arrested over a week ago for obstructing a railroad locomotive and sentenced to a community remedial order. He was later arrested while walking through a nearby national park on Kooragang Island this week for allegedly breaking that order.

He was charged with attempting to obstruct the operation of mining equipment and attempting to aid in the obstruction of a railway locomotive.

Herbert is one of 29 Blockade Australia activists who have been arrested at the coal port – the world’s largest – over the past two weeks for blocking trains and shutting down machinery, shutting down operations.

Herbert had previously received fines and minor charges for his activism, including six months probation for locking himself in a car outside the Queensland Parliament in 2019.

Activists told PEDESTRIAN the point of the action was to hit the government where it hurts, at their beloved fossil fuel sites, and a very angry Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce estimated that the first 10 days of protests cost Australia’s coal export industry $ 60 million.

So far, activists have been sentenced to terms including fines, community correction orders and non-association orders, but this is the first time in jail.

Protesters in Australia are very rarely sentenced to prison terms, because protesting is a common right. But since Australia does not have a bill of rights or human rights law like many other countries, different states and jurisdictions may take different approaches.

Last week, New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller established a dedicated police task force and threatened activists with additional rail offenses carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

But for someone whose actions have been non-violent, Blockade Australia says Herbert’s sentence is extreme.

“Obviously, this is an extreme sentence for a 22 year old who has only participated in nonviolent direct action” Zianna Fuad, spokesperson for the Australian blockade said PEDESTRIAN.

“We are deeply concerned about the worsening oppression. It has become more obvious to us that Australia wants to preserve itself. It really fits with our view that our democracy is rigged. “

By comparison, a key organizer of the Sydney anti-lockdown protests in July was sentenced to up to eight months in prison, with three months without parole, for planning the ‘unauthorized’ protest as well as multiple violations of the ordinances. public health.

Fuad says the conviction might deter people from joining their movement, but it could also have the opposite effect.

“We are very aware that this is actually a scare tactic,” she said.

“We hope that they will also turn on them hard and get more people to stand up.”

“If more people take this step, they are less likely to receive these harsh sentences. “


Australia’s largest oil and gas development in over 10 years has now been given the green light to be built off the coast of WA, despite experts say the world can no longer have fossil fuel development if we are to reach net zero by 2050.

The $ 16.5 billion Woodside BHP Scarborough gas project upgrades the Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility near Karratha.

Construction will include a 430 kilometer pipeline and a second production train at the LNG processing plant.

Meg O’Neill, CEO of Woodside said in a declaration that the project was important to the future of the company by providing liquidity to fund future developments “for decades to come”. Ouch.

Premier Mark McGowan greeted the announcement with a lot of blah blah blah.

This approval was outright rejected by climate groups and experts, with the Washington State Conservation Council calling it a disaster for the climate, marine life and the environment. of global importance Indigenous heritage on the Burrup Peninsula.

I think the director of the Australasian Center for Corporate Responsibility, Dan Gocher, put on the best: “What part of ‘No New Fossil Fuel Projects’ does Woodside not include?” ”

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Image: Blockade Australia


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