Sydney Harbour Bridge: Greenpeace activists scale bridge


Their story became one of the most heartbreaking of the Townsville floods.

Months after tying the knot in the backyard of their old Queenslander home, Andrew and Amelia Rankin found it completely under water.

Working as a photographer, Mr Rankin went out to survey the damage when he took these snaps that made headlines across Australia earlier this year.

“Andrew went out to try and document the flooding and we helped who we could, but then we got the call from our neighbours. Our cars were going underwater,” Mrs Rankin said.

“We rushed back to find our home had become an island.

“When we were told the dam would be opened that night to prevent it breaking, we knew we had only three hours to get out.

“We had to organise a makeshift raft to higher ground with the few possessions we could save – the cat in a cage. It was absolute panic. Tanks were driving through the river that used to be our street to evacuate everyone.”

So what does their story have to do with the protest at Sydney Harbour Bridge this morning?

Mrs Rankin shared the story through Greenpeace today, following the couple’s participation in the protest.

They were among the team on the ground taking a stand on climate change and calling for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to declare a “climate emergency”.

Activists abseiled down the bridge holding protest banners at dawn this morning, with 13 people initially arrested.

Three of the protesters unfurled banners demanding action on climate change after they abseiled from underneath the pedestrian walkway on the western side of the bridge.

One activist was holding a banner that said “100% RENEWABLES”, with the Greenpeace logo underneath.

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Greenpeace has since followed up with emails calling for people to stand with the activists and add their voice to their campaign.

“I remember waking up at three in the morning and just bursting into tears,” Mrs Rankin continues in the email plea.

“I can’t even begin the describe the grief I felt. That first week was the hardest. You could walk around the supermarket and just see how much people were suffering. You’d find people in tears in the aisles.

“We miss our street and our community. We miss normal. Some of us won’t be back until Christmas, or later. There is no doubt in my mind that we are in a climate emergency. We are living through it right now. It’s time our leaders acted like it.”

The couple got married in their backyard since months ago in the home they thought they would be in “forever”.

Activists were expected to be charged today.

Officers from NSW Police, with help from PolAir, marine and rescue crews, arrested 10 people but three of the activists remained hanging for several hours.

They were eventually removed and arrested by 9.30am.

All 13 have been taken to local police stations for questioning.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter dismissed questions about the legality of the protest action.

“The activities today are like a smoke alarm when the house is on fire … it’s a wake up call to the prime minister who is not acting in the face of this climate emergency,” he told AAP.

“He still has time before polling day to make a statement.”

The protest comes four days before the federal election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday that he was “passionate about a lot of things” but didn’t to stop traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge because “that would be inconsiderate”.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said he also disapproved of the illegal protest.

“What I say to millions of Australians who are concerned about climate change – you can make a really effective protest on Saturday,” he told reporters in Tasmania.

“You can vote Labor for re-election on climate change.”

The activist group posted a link to a petition targeting Mr Morrison just before 6am this morning.

“Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia’s climate is in a state of crisis,” it said.

“I call on you to declare a climate emergency now. I stand with the #ClimateEmergency activists and I am willing to do what it takes to ensure the next government acts on the climate crisis, including taking part in the growing movement of peaceful defiance.”

“Climate damage is happening right now. Australia is facing a climate emergency right now,” Mr Ritter said in a statement.

“Our political leaders must listen to those already affected by climate disaster and act.”

with AAP





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