Byron council blacklists Westpac over Adani mine

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with India's Adani Group founder and chairman Gautam Adani in New Delhi, earlier this month. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with India’s Adani Group founder and chairman Gautam Adani in New Delhi, earlier this month. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

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.’


23 responses to “Byron council blacklists Westpac over Adani mine”

  1. Chris Roberts says:

    Where will Byron Council park it’s money now?

    Current big 4 bank investments in fossil fuels, as listed on Market Forces

    ANZ – $23,414m
    CBA – $20,590m
    NAB – $14,867m
    Westpac – $11,613m

    Westpac has the least in fossil fuels overall.

  2. Jon says:

    Typical of the left using this boycott tactic to attack companies which it disagrees with.

    • Russell says:

      Well done Jon, you successfully comprehended what the article is saying. When the politicians won’t listen to their electorate, commercial boycotting is one of the few effective methods to communicate community values. Majority of Australians don’t want this mine. It’s about time we took some ownership over our own resources.

    • barry beattie says:

      Typical of the left to have ethics and values worth standing up for.

      Maybe if there was less thought of short-term financial profit and more about sustainable building of value we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    • Ian Garradd says:

      IT is a really rational decision to move money out of institutions which support really poor investments. It is about risk management. and not supporting bsinesses who support companies which are wrecking the planet when there are better coices of energy around.

      I do the same with my banking and super- both with explicit policies of not supporting fossil fuel miining or investments. – and last year the super fund had a very healthy 6.6 % net return after fees.

    • Peter Campbell says:

      Go ahead, Jon. Invest your own money in a coal mine if you are confident that this will not become a stranded asset and if you don’t mind your money being used to worsen climate change. Don’t expect a responsible council to do the same, albeit indirectly, with their constituent’s money.

      • Petrus says:

        Do you really think the working funds of the Byron Shire in Westpac will be put at risk by any failure of Adani and coal mining in general? As I note below the The Byron Shire’s move is tokenism, but the commentary here suggests it will work in terms of their popularity. There are a lot of people in these fora who comment or even protest on green issues, but do not support well thought through analyses that would guide their council on how to improve public or more sustainable transport, and actually reduce dependence on fossil fuels. They would rather have more and more tokenism like promoting a tourist tram with decorative solar panels and shiny metal stations – how much coal went into their construction? – while doing nothing about improving the cycling environment in the Shire . The motto of the Byron Shire appears to be: “shout globally; snore locally”.

  3. Mik Aidt says:

    Great! Thumbs up to Byron Shire Council! More about what other local councils in Australia are doing in this blogpost:

  4. James Tillige says:

    YES GO Byron

  5. Jen green says:

    We can all stand by and do nothing or we can all do our little bit to get the message to Malcolm Turnball, STOP ADANI . The reef is too beautiful. Jen. Yeppoon. Thumbs up Byron👍🏻👍🏻🐬

  6. Stuart Lewis says:

    Bunch of hippies with no go in there life. Pull your head in and let central qld people have jobs for the future and there families

  7. sara says:

    This Fitness Blogger Didn’t Shave Armpits And Legs For A Year To Promote Natural Beauty

    In search for body positivity!

  8. Petrus says:

    The Byron Shire has no expertise in reviewing major resource projects and no expertise in the area of foreign investment, nor any mandate to to make even this token attempt to interfere with the decision making of elected State and Commonwealth governments, and the business of a lawfully operating company. Perhaps the Byron Shire Council should mind its own business and do something about sustainability in the Shire and in our region. This is the Council that thinks public transport is a tourist tram from a luxury resort; the one Council in area concerned that did not give support to improved commuter bus services to and from Lismore. In Byron Bay young people are forced to ride down the footpaths because its Council has provided so few decent bike paths or even marked lanes. In 2017 you cannot even cross the disused rails to get from from Jonson to Butler Street without going over the traffic choked Lawson Street railway crossing (something you could do 60 years ago if you dragged your bike over the tracks!). This is a Council that allows trucks and other heavy vehicles to travel at high speeds down rural road, rendering them unsafe for bikes and other light vehicles – that thinks reviewing speed limits would be a nice thing to do in some future year. Not content with making the development of ecologically sustainable cycle tourism unaffordable in its own shire, it now is has tried to get the Tweed Council to persuade the State Government to waste the NSW people’s money to be able to retain the disused rail line for some improbable future use on the low priority Byron Murwillumbah route. Some people of the Byron area might think this statement is part of Council moving to a sustainable and fossil-fuel free future – the reality is that it is cover over its failure to invest in sustainable futures and its failure to be part of making our region a model of sustainable living and tourism.

  9. Fea Oldham says:

    Go Byron! I send an email to the CEO and the bastard’s office never had the decency to reply to our messages via Marine Conservation Group. A shocker!

  10. Peter Clark says:

    Well done Cr Lyon and Byron Shire Council look to the future to try to fix mistakes of the past, this is evolution which we need so we can survive the future. We should have and could be a lot smarter if we want our planet and children to have any sort of future.

  11. Tim. says:

    Good Move Cr Lyon.

  12. Jenny fitzgibbon says:

    Wanna live in Byron, but just cheaper to congratulate council from here. Good on ye.
    Here is a song for you all. Pack up your troubles and sing along …
    Divest your Super from the old Coal Mine
    And smile, smile, smile
    Divest your Super from the old Coal Mine
    ‘Cos fossil fuels are vile
    What’s the use of profiting
    No future in denial
    So – Divest your super from the old Coal Mine
    and Smile smile smile!

    Divest your banking from that Coal Seam Gas
    And smile, smile, smile
    Divest your banking from that Coal Seam Gas
    ‘Cos fossil fuels are vile
    What’s the use of mortgaging
    If you’re building on denial
    So – divest your banking from that Coal Seam Gas
    And smile smile smile

    Invest your money with your kids in mind
    And Smile smile smile
    Invest your money with your kids in mind
    ‘Cos fossil fuels are vile
    What’s the use of parenting
    If it’s only for a while
    Invest your money with your kids in mind
    And Smile smile smile

  13. Sean says:

    Well Byron, we have holidayed as a family in your region for over 30 years. Your job is to maintain the roads and other local council things. We will be boycotting your shire and holidaying in the Whitsundays from this day on. Ciao.

    • Petrus says:

      I can appreciate your wish to put some money into North QLD, but if you do want to come our way some day consider staying in the Ballina Shire. Our council does not preach to others about conservation issues, they actually follow good practice in providing good infrastructure and services that support sustainability; they also maintain their roads, and do so without charging outsiders for parking while exempting their own residents. And if you are coming from the North you can pass through the Byron Shire waving “Ciao” from the window without stopping. If ever you do come back to our region though do consider popping into the Byron Shire – there are some sensible people there too who care enough about the environment to do more than proselytize about it and are actually urging their Shire to take some action – like building a rail trail.

  14. mark busmer says:

    If all Councils followed Cr Lyon’s direction that would be great! We all love living in caves and having 3rd world infrastructure like that in Byron. Oh we wouldn’t need expensive electricity either because he would allow us to cut all the trees down and use them for firewood. What better way to cook and keep warm in summer. I know all Byron Bay people love having cold showers once a week.

  15. Peter Campbell says:

    Well done, Byron council. Bank Australia does not put money into fossil fuels.

  16. michael childs says:

    Go Byron, more councils need to follow suit, and individuals too. There are plenty
    of alternative banks that don’t invest in fossil fuels, there just not the big 4.
    For example Bendigo bank. Time is now for all of us to take greater actions on climate change,
    and to stop supporting polluting fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have many harmful health effects
    as well, such as air pollution. Market forces has plenty of info about banks that invest in
    dangerous fossil fuels, and those that choose not to.

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