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Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

New Tweed mayor Katie Milne thinking ahead

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I congratulate Greens councillor Katie Milne on being elected as Tweed mayor and also on moving a resolution to ask the council’s bankers to consider not investing in CSG or other fossil fuel projects.

It is great to see that she has the security and safety of funds invested on behalf of Tweed Shire ratepayers at the top of her agenda.

She can see, unlike a number of other councillors, that CSG and coal investments are becoming increasingly riskier.

CSG and coal projects are more and more being seen as presenting an unacceptable risk as an investment.

Even Barnaby Joyce, Federal Agriculture Minister, can see that fossil fuel investments don’t stack up1.

Major Australian and international banks including NAB2 and CBA3 are withdrawing their support from these projects because of the risk that they will become ‘stranded assets’ and result in major losses.

International bodies such as the International Energy Agency have warned that coal projects would be stranded because of the shift to renewables and other actions to combat climate change. 4

Regardless of councillors’ individual views on climate change and the role of fossil fuels it would be fiscally prudent to avoid investing in projects that are likely to become stranded assets and result in potential major losses to investors including Tweed Shire ratepayers.

Councillors were not being asked to adopt a radical position.

Newcastle City Council recently resolved to divest of similar investments. Cr Milne’s motion did not go that far, arguing instead that council write to the financial institutions urging them not to support these types of projects.

This seems to me to be a prudent first step in carrying out their role as an elected Councillor in ensuring the safety and security of ratepayer and other funds under investment.

Statements from Cr Carolyn Byrne suggesting that you can’t tell banks where to invest your money go against the reality of modern investment practices.

Ethical investment is a fast growing sector of the financial market.

That Council does have this capacity is reflected in the fact that, according to council officers, 41 per cent of funds under investment are currently held in ‘ethical investments’.

This is a lost opportunity for Tweed Shire Council to maintain a leadership role in the campaign against CSG in the Northern Rivers and more broadly.

Michael McNamara, Tyalgum

 

 


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