Climate change activists have continued their efforts to prevent coal trains from entering the Port of Newcastle after ten days of consecutive protest action.
The protesters from the Blockade Australia began their campaign on Monday, November 8 and have used a variety of tactics to block rail lines including suspending themselves above rail lines and from bridges, climbing onto trains and parking a car on the tracks.
NSW Police announced Strike Force Tuohy had been established on Monday, November 15 as part of efforts to actively prevent and disrupt illegal protests in the Hunter/Newcastle region.
Police said officers attached to Strike Force Tuohy will be conducting proactive patrols and targeting anyone engaging in suspicious behaviour.
NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, said police have increased security and surveillance along the rail corridor to prevent further disruption to commuter and freight trains in the area.
"This government will not tolerate protesters undermining commuter activities and causing significant damage to these local industries which employ people from across the region," Mr Elliott said.
NSW Police Northern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna, said the actions of the protest group was placing lives at risk. .
"Illegally entering rail corridors and expecting trains that are over 1.5km in length to stop for people placing themselves in front of them is outrageous and incredibly dangerous behaviour," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce scheduled a media appearance in Singleton on Monday, November 15 to condemn the actions of the protest group, saying that each train represented roughly $1 million in export value to Australia.
"It's about $100,000 in royalties, so what you've got here is payments for your NDIS, payments for your pharmaceutical benefits scheme, payments for pensions and unemployment benefit," Mr Joyce said.
"These people who decide to close all that down - I don't know, they mustn't be at work - so some of the social security that they're living off has been paid for by that.
"They've already stopped $60 million of our exports."
The Blockade Australia group said "Corporate and institutional power is driving the climate crisis and blocking climate action" and their protests create "political leverage that is needed to make real change".
"The climate collapse threatens all life on earth," the group said in a statement.
"The only chance we've got of creating a liveable future is by uniting in solidarity and using our collective power to fight for climate justice."
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