The Byron Shire Council will withdraw $1 million from Westpac because of the bank’s refusal to publicly rule out financing the controversial Adani Carmichael coal mine.
Cr Michael Lyon put forward an urgency motion at yesterday’s council meeting calling on the council to divest the funds at the first opportunity that would not lead to any financial disadvantage to ratepayers.
The motion, which was passed, also means the council will refrain from any future investments with Westpac and other financial institutions and their subsidiaries until they publicly rule out any financing of the mine.
This includes over $70 million of investments maturing in 2017 that would potentially be available for reinvestment.
Cr Lyon said it was time for the council to get serious on climate change.
‘Investment in renewables is the only sensible path forward and Adani’s mine proposal is a backward step,’ Cr Lyon said.
‘Any financial institution stuck in the past needs to understand they will face a mass exodus of customers until they do what is required for a sustainable future.’
The motion also means that the council will write to the chief executive of Westpac to inform the bank’s board of the decision. Letters will also be sent to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and various ministers, Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and her ministers, as well as local councils.
‘Following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s recent meeting with Adani Group’s and founder chairman Gautam Adani in India, the danger that the Carmichael coal mine will go ahead in Queensland’s Galilee Basin is becoming increasingly apparent,’ Cr Lyon said.
‘The Carmichael mine would become the largest coal mine in Australia, furthering a legacy of devastating greenhouse gas pollution and contributing irrevocably to global warming at a precarious tipping point for our planet’s future.
‘With a Prime Minister supporting the project and the prospect of a $1 billion loan from Australian taxpayers, local governments must do all we can to stop Adani. This would also send a very clear message, and set an example, to the rest of the world of responsible resource management.
Cr Lyon said Westpac was the only one of the big four banks to have not publically refused financing of Adani’s Carmichael mine.
‘As a Council that aims to advance a more sustainable Byron Shire, it only makes sense that council divests funds from institutions without this same view, both to prevent taxpayer dollars flowing to institutions that may contribute to such a historic mine and also to make its stance known that Byron Shire residents do not support Adani’s Carmichael coal mine. ‘
Byron mayor Simon Richardson said the Adani mine would be a stranded asset before it was built and a legacy to economic stupidity and inflexible ideology.
‘Council will put our ratepayers money where our values are,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘We will have nothing to do with those who support this mine, including Westpac.
‘Byron Shire Council, like its community, wishes to part of the solution, not the problem.
‘Hopefully Westpac will join with the community of Byron Shire and embrace the opportunities for a renewable and fossil fuel free future.’