Around 40 Tweed locals opposed to coal seam gas (CSG) mining held a peaceful protest and public-awareness action outside Murwillumbah’s ANZ Bank branch yesterday (Tuesday).
Lock the Tweed spokesman Michael McNamara said the ‘name and shame’ action aimed to raise awareness among customers and the general public about ANZ’s support for coal and CSG developments, was well received by the locals.
Mr McNamara said a bank manager accepted a letter from the group giving reasons for the public event and there were ‘no problems’ about it.
‘It is important that ANZ customers, and the public generally, understand the critical role that ANZ is playing in facilitating the coal and CSG industries ripping the heart out of Australia,’ Mr McNamara said.
‘We can’t stand idly by while our national icons such as the Great Barrier Reef are put at risk and while places like Leard State Forest are destroyed.
‘ANZ has lent over $2.3 billion to companies developing coal ports and CSG processing plants along the Queensland coast.
‘The number of ship movements through the Great Barrier Reef is anticipated to grow sixfold to more than 10,000 per year. That is one ship every 50 minutes right through the year.
‘The development of gas processing plants will see millions of tonnes of sludge dumped on this national icon.
‘What the ANZ and other banks fail to realise is that the money they are using to support these dirty, invasive and destructive industries does not belong to them; they are holding it in trust for their customers. These customers are ordinary people in communities just like ours right across Australia.
‘Whitehaven Coal, one of the companies supported by ANZ, has begun clear-felling parts of Leard State Forest in northwest NSW. Yesterday they destroyed a River Red Gum that pre-dated Captain Cook’s arrival in 1770.
‘We want to make sure that Tweed residents are aware that their funds are being used to support these activities and give them a chance to make their views known to their bank.
‘Banks have lending policies that are supposed to take account of environmental and social factors when assessing loans for major projects.
‘ANZ’s lending policies are obviously flawed and they need to change,’ Mr McNamara said.