The radical environmental group behind a snap protest that brought peak hour traffic to a standstill is paying big bucks to promote its planned chaos.
Fireproof Australia activists blocked off city-bound lanes of the Spit Bridge on Sydney’s lower north shore on Tuesday before until were dragged from the road by police.
The group plans to cause more mayhem on Sydney’s roads on a weekly basis and is paying contractors up to $50 an hour to stick flyers to inner-city homes in a desperate 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.
The man behind Tuesday’s protest was recently jailed over his involvement in a coal train blockade.
Fireproof Australia protesters make no apologies for the widespread chaos they caused on one of Sydney’s busiest roads at Mosman before being dragged away by police
Climate activist Eric Serge Herbert was sentenced to a minimum six months behind bars in November after he climbed on top of a train as part of a protest to disrupt the coal industry in Newcastle north of Sydney.
He is on bail pending an appeal of his 12-month sentence.
Herbert confirmed his involvement in organising Fireproof Australia’s activities but claimed he was not directly engaged in the protests.
‘The longer that the government doesn’t give us our demands, the more people will be signing up to engage in this civil resistance to protect their communities,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
He said the group was focused on ‘protection rather than prevention’ and he cut all ties with Blockade Australia, the organisation involved in last year’s coal industry disruptions in Newcastle.
Eric Serge Herbert (pictured) confirmed he organises many of Fireproof Australia’s activities
The Fireproof Australia flyers are being distributed in electorates being held by federal Liberals MPs and urge residents join a ‘local response meeting’.
The group vowed to cause more chaos on Sydney’s roads on a weekly basis to get its message across and planned to ramp up its disruptions to a daily from April 1.
Demonstrators disrupted the morning routines of thousands to call for the government to buy a water tank fleet to fight bushfires and do more to fight climate change.
Tuesday’s protest couldn’t have come at a worse time for motorists who faced a long commute to the city for a second day running after Sydney’s entire rail network was shut down.
Buses heading into the city brought to a standstill by protesters (pictured) on the Spit Bridge
The activists, who included a legally blind grandmother, defended their actions and made no apologies for the mayhem they caused.
The group boldly declared Tuesday’s protest was just the beginning and vowed to block Sydney’s major roads ‘consistently and non-violently, week after week until the government meets our reasonable demands’.
Fireproof Australia describes itself as being made up of ‘ordinary people’ who suffered in the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 and feel betrayed by the government for not acting on the recommendations of the Bushfire Royal commission.
Demonstrators insisted non-violent civil resistance was necessary as they called on others to join the campaign.
‘We need to be noisy, naughty Australians, we do not want to be doing this but our government is failing us and civil disobedience is the only and last powerful resort,’ the group explained in a video.
Activists from Fireproof Australia (pictured) vowed to cause more traffic chaos
Fireproof Australia demonstrators braved the rain to sit in the middle of road, sparking a divisive reaction from Sydneysiders
‘We trust the people who actually hold the hose and what they need to protect us is we will give them.’
‘We need a large aerial firefighting fleet. The bushfire Royal Commission has said they need this fleet to keep us safe and we’re going to sit on the road until a large Australian aerial firefighting fleet is here and we fireproof Australia.’
The group’s strong stance sparked a divided reaction online.
‘This is not the way to gain public support – you just served to frustrate people this morning and therefore they will not be sympathetic,’ one woman commented.
‘Educate – provide knowledge – illicit awareness and empathy, but not this – this was a weak action and rather ironic given it was raining.’
Another added: ‘Their lack of care for negatively impacting people’s lives under the pretext of wanting a society that is more aware of how we impact on our environment is bewilderingly incongruous.’
The group also called for the installation of smoke filters in all schools and nursing homes and for bushfire survivors to be rehomed.
Eric Serge Herbert (pictured with his twin sisters) confirmed his involvement in organising Fireproof Australia’s activities but claimed he was not directly engaged in the protests
Bus commuters on their way to work in the city were also caught up in the chaos (pictured)
Herbert confirmed his involvement in organising Fireproof Australia’s activities but claimed he was not directly engaged in the protests
The snap protest brought traffic to a complete standstill for more than 20 minutes.
Motorists and commuters shared photos and footage of protesters sitting in the middle of the road before they were dragged away by police.
‘Protestors’ being basically carried off the Spit Bridge,’ one commuter tweeted.
2GB breakfast radio host Ben Fordham slammed the demonstrators on air for putting their lives at risk.
The group also copped backlash from local federal MP Jason Falinski.
‘These climate protestors have promised more civil disobedience and roadblocks,’ he said.
‘This never use to happen on the Northern Beaches until Climate 200 rolled in. They’re not actually trying to change policy, there are just trying to hurt people.
The snap protest brought traffic to a complete standstill for more than 20 minutes
Stunned motorists and commuters watched on as police dragged away the protesters
NSW Police told Daily Mail Australia protesters quickly dispersed from the scene and no arrests were made.
Southbound traffic remains extremely heavy on Spit Road for most of the morning with motorists urged to allow plenty of extra travel time as queues stretched for more than 2km.
The incident added to a second consecutive day of chaos on Sydney roads after ‘limited’ train services resumed on Tuesday morning.
Traffic on the Spit Bridge remained heavy for most of the morning following Tuesday’s protest