A man is in police custody at Waratah and is expected to face a number of charges over obstructing the Hunter rail corridor after he apparently attempted to blockade a the rail line at Sandgate around 6am this morning.
The Blockade Australia activist group has claimed responsibility for the incident and identified the man as Wilkarr Kurikutahr. In a Facebook livestream of the incident recorded by Kurikutahr, who identifies himself as a Ngemba and Wangan and Jagalingou man, he claims that the stunt was performed "in solidarity with the mob up here".
"I'm taking action today because I'm sick of the government destroying our land - not just the land where I'm from, the land from where all these mobs are from," he said.
Kurikutahr was suspended from a nine-metre tripod structure over the rail lines at Sandgate around 6am Monday morning designed to obstruct the way for coal trains coming to and from the Port of Newcastle.
"I've got two kids, one on the way, and I'm thinking about their future," Kurikutahr said, "I want them to grow up seeing what I seen, when I was a kid in the bush and everything, and if we keep going the way we are we're not going to have anything to show our kids."
Police were called to the scene where the man was arrested and taken to Waratah Police. He is expected to be charged with a number of offences relating to obstructing the rail corridor, a spokesperson for Newcastle Police said.
In a statement, Blockade Australia claimed to use "disruptive tactics like this because more traditional methods of campaigning, like petitions, voting and lobbying have failed to create the political change needed to deal with this crisis".
The action comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the Hunter on Monday after announcing the Hunter Region will be crucial to the country's plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and jobs in "key industries" won't be sacrificed.
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