An enraged driver on his way to work dragged a climate protester off the major road she and others were blocking on Tuesday.
Four people were arrested in the incident where Fireproof Australia climate protestors blocked three lanes of traffic before being removed at around 9am.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet hopes the potential for a $22,000 fine or two years in jail changes protestors minds.
The episode at General Holmes Drive in the Sydney suburb of Brighton-Le-Sands was the first since the NSW government introduced new laws to tackle protesters blocking public roads.
The frustrated driver snatched a flag off the protester before dragging them along the road
‘Get the f*** out of here, move,’ said the driver as he approached the protestor closest to the median strip.
‘F***ing idiot, I’ve got to go to work, you f***ing dope,’ he added.
Before the man being made late for work took matters into his own hand, a couple of others had tried to reason with the protestors.
‘Can you just open up one lane so that people that need to get through can get though,’ asked a woman.
But the protestors just kept sitting on the ground and singing a protest song.
‘For emergencies and things like that?’ the woman added, to no avail.
‘I understand where you are coming from,’ she then said as she gave up.
She was replaced at the battle front by a male driver who pointed out to the protestors that the were ‘not making any friends by making everyone late for work’.
‘You’re not getting any support,’ he added, before the angry driver arrived on the scene and took a less gentle approach to the matter.
New NSW laws against roadblocking protests
New rules passed by NSW parliament mean protesters who block major roads and disrupt traffic face up to two years in prison and $22,000 in fines.
The new law followed a series of protests by activist group Blockade Australia at Port Botany and in the Hunter.
He firstly grabbed a red protest banner and threw it to his left, where it was skillfully caught by a fellow inconvenienced driver, who had also just arrived to where the action was.
The first man then started dragging the female protestor along the ground while the man with the banner bundled it up.
A police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that they were alerted at about 8.30am to ‘an unauthorised protest at Brighton-Le-Sands’.
‘Emergency services were called to General Holmes Drive following reports four people had gathered on the roadway, blocking traffic in the north bound lanes.
‘Police attempted to speak to the protestors, who failed to comply with move-on directions,’ the spokesperson said.
The group – a 48-year-old East Lismore woman, a 61-year-old ACT woman, a 46-year-old Queensland man and a 31-year-old Brighton Le Sands woman – was arrested and moved from the roadway without incident a short time later and taken to Kogarah Police Station.
They were each charged with wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel, refuse/fail to comply with direction under Part 14, and fail or refuse to disclose identity as required.
All were refused bail, to appear at Sutherland Local Court.
All lanes on General Holmes Drive were reopened by around 9am.
A local called Maria was one of those who called the police after seeing motorists approach the protesters.
‘I look out and there’s a big red banner. Next time I look, someone’s grabbing the big red banner,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.
She said everyone thought it was an accident at first. ‘After a point, a few young men walked up to see what was going on. A few tried to drag (the protesters) off.’
A driver is pictured dragging a climate protestor who had been blocking a Sydney road
Maria said some frustrated motorists crossed over into the southbound lane to get past the protestors.
The climate group later released a statement saying that ‘Defying newly passed laws Fireproof Australia supporters blockade a major road at Botany Bay in peak hour with their bodies and a call for a large aerial tanker fleet of waterbombing planes to fight fires.’
Fireproof Australia is thought likely to increase their protest activity in the run up to next month’s federal election.
A spokesman for the group said: ‘The bottom line is that non-violent resistance forces the government to listen to its people.
‘Unfortunately it’s not always pleasant but ultimately it will be far more pleasant than the absolute climate collapse we are already seeing with the recent floods and megafires,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Fireproof Australia protestors blocked three lanes of traffic on a busy Sydney road on Tuesday morning. Pictured is a man dragging one of the protestors along the ground
‘So we have to take action now so we can avoid more tragedies that are set to keep occurring in the future. We stand by our tactics and will continue to use them.
‘We are concerned about people. We are made up of ordinary people and we feel the action we are taking is proportional to the risk.’
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet hopes protestors will change their mind once they realise they are facing two years’ jail or a $22,000 fine.
‘This type of behaviour needs to stop,’ he said.
His government respects and promotes free speech, Mr Perrottet said, but people must exercise their right to protest responsibly.
‘Don’t do it at the expense of people trying to get to and from work, trying to get their kids to school, stopping people earning a living and a wage – that’s what these protests are doing,’ Mr Perrottet said.
In February, seven of the group’s protesters stopped peak hour traffic on the Spit Bridge in Mosman.
Among them were a 32-year-old man and two women, aged 31 and 68 who were all charged by Manly Police.
The group is paying contractors up to $50 an hour to stick flyers to inner-city homes in an attempt to boost its support base.
The lucrative incentive is funded by Climate Emergency Fund, a global group that supports activists who are transforming climate politics, according to its website.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk