Twelve more Blockade Australia climate protesters have been arrested over the group’s mass disruption campaign in Sydney’s CBD.
Around 40 people from climate group Blockade Australia congregated in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Tuesday morning and marched east up William Street, the major route to Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
NSW Police, including the riot squad and mounted officers maintained a heavy presence, while the PolAir helicopter hovered above the demonstration.
The protesters’ progress was hampered by police and they quickly dispersed.
The march marked the second consecutive day of civil action by the group, which on Monday blocked the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and saw 10 activists arrested.
The NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, said 12 protesters had been arrested on Tuesday, describing the activists as “bloody idiots”.
“You want to push your cause – all you’re doing is making people move away from your cause as quickly as possible. It also endangers people,” Perrottet told reporters.
“It is completely unacceptable.”
The 10 activists arrested Monday have all been charged, with many refused bail. There were due to appear in court on Tuesday charged with multiple obstruction and disruption offences.
Blockade Australia says the action will continue all week, with the group planning to “take to the streets” again on Wednesday.
Spokesman Jonah Shabtay said the protests were designed to demonstrate the effects of the collapse of the climate.
The action was to make it “quite known and unavoidable that disruption is going to come from climate collapse, in which Sydney’s economy is largely responsible”.
“In order to respond to that we’re choosing to disrupt the city,” he said.
The group had moved away from its prior tactic of targeting ports and was focusing on roads in central Sydney, he said.
“It’s essentially going to be traffic disruptions that we’ll see throughout the week,” he said.
The NSW police minister, Paul Toole, said he was furious about the protests, labelling the demonstrators “professional pests”.
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.
Meanwhile, the federal environment minister and Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek said protesters must respect the law.
“I understand people feel strongly but you’ve also got a right to make your views publicly known,” Plibersek told ABC radio.
“You don’t have a right to break the law while you’re doing it.”