A law student has been slapped with a $1,200 fine and given a two-year community corrections order for turning off a machine at the world’s biggest coal port in Newcastle – and all it took was a ‘stop’ button.
In a video posted to the Blockade Australia Facebook page, she says: ‘My name is Kirsten Hoffman and I’m a 23-year-old law student and I just stopped a coal machine by pressing one of the buttons’.
Hoffman, who is studying law at the Australian National University, says she’s ‘part of a team of Extinction Rebels camping and causing pacifist disruption for as long as it takes to reach zero carbon emissions’.
Kirsten Hoffman, 23, was fined $1,200 and sentenced to a two-year community corrections order
In her video from the coal port in Newcastle, she says ‘I’m also running around putting some Blockade Australia stickers on equipment’.
‘And back there Jacinta, a mum, is locked onto this machinery to stop this coal port contributing to the climate and ecological emergency that we’re currently all in.’
Hoffman adds that ‘the only way to stop this is to actually be out here doing the work and turning machines off’.
In the video, which was initially livestreamed, she says there are security guards around but they had not yet approached her.
‘For now I can kind of just sit tight and plan the next machine that I’m going to turn off.’
Looking around, she calls the port ‘a bleak landscape, like the moon’. ‘I can’t believe we chop down trees to make things like this, just giant piles of black.’
After she asks people to join her in direct action, she pays tribute to the local Indigenous population.
‘I must acknowledge that we are on Worimi and Awabakal country today. The first nations, who had their land stolen and have been fighting in resistance ever since.’
Hoffman then says that the ‘pacifist disruption’ practised by her and her compatriots is a continuation of what the local Aboriginal people have been doing for hundreds of years.
A climate activist turned off a machine at the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, bringing the whole process to a halt
‘So we’re not going to be the first people doing this struggle and we’re not going to be the last,’ she says.
‘So I am very grateful to their elders past, present and emerging for sharing this country with us and for fighting and for never giving up, because I draw a lot of strength from my friends in those communities.’
She adds that her Indigenous friends ‘teach me about British law, which is what I study. And it’s just a bunch of white, male judges, versus Indigenous law’.
Hoffman then interrupts herself to say there’s a car after her and she has to run. But she keeps filming. And talking.
‘World’s largest coal port, have a look. I’m 23, I’m not very good at climbing but I can run around.
‘I already turned off this machinery but they went and turned the rest of it off because they can’t rearrange their coal when there’s people in here.’
She says another woman ‘is locked on [to equipment] back there, and they’re going to have to cut her out. It’s going to take ages. It’s hilarious.’
Hoffman does, however, acknowledge that the port employees are being careful.
‘They are worried about our safety, but they shouldn’t be doing this job. Coal is going to kill our kids.’
Activist Eric Herbert has been sentenced to 12 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of six months
And she is not without difficulties in her own life. She points out that her dog had been unwell.
‘This is in honour of my little dog Flinders that I’m out here today, protecting other small creatures. Good on ya buddy.’
At this point, the police arrive.
And there her adventure, and the video, ended.
Hoffman is not the only climate activist to face sanction in recent days.
Eric Serge Herbert, 22, pleaded guilty to obstructing a rail locomotive, attempting to hinder the working of mining equipment and attempting to assist in the obstruction of a rail locomotive.
Newcastle magistrate Janine Lacy on Monday sentenced the Sunshine Coast man to 12 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of six months.
Herbert is a part of a set of triplets with glamorous identical twin sisters Elisha and Renee who say their brother is being treated like a ‘murderer’.
Identical ‘Twinstagram’ sisters Elisha and Renee Herbert (pictured), from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, are furious their triplet brother is being treated like a ‘rapist or a murderer’