The $21-billion Carmichael mine in Queensland's Galilee basin if built, would be Australia's biggest.
The $21-billion Carmichael mine in Queensland's Galilee basin if built, would be Australia's biggest.

Byron Council to pull $1million investment from Westpac

BYRON Shire Council is set to divest $1 million in investments from Westpac, the only bank of the big four to not have publicly refused it will finance Adani's Carmicheal coal mine, planned for the Qld's Galilee Basin.   

The move follows Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's meeting with Adani chairman, Gautam Adani, in India in April, as the company considers its final decision on the $21-billion project.

Councillor Michael Lyon lodged the urgent motion at council's meeting on Thursday night pledging ratepayers' investments would to be stripped from Westpac to be re-invested into renewable energy initiatives instead.

"It is time to get serious on climate change," Cr Lyon said.

"Investment in renewables is the only sensible path forward and Adani's mine proposal is a backward step. 

"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."

Westpac and its subsidiaries will also be barred from applying to re-invest $70m of term deposits owned by Byron Shire Council with other banks that will mature at the end of the 2016 financial year.

$1m currently invested with Westpac will be divested, until the bank "publicly rule out any financing of Adani's Carmichael mine".

Mayor Simon Richardson said Byron Shire Council was putting its money 'where its values are' and the promised action will "not lead to financial harm" to ratepayers.

"The Adani mine will be a stranded asset before it is built and a legacy to economic stupidity and inflexible ideology," 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.  

Byron Shire Council will write to other councils, the PM and political parties, advising them it "vehemently opposes the realization of Adani's Carmichael mine".

Darebin Council supported a similar motion earlier this month.

The motion was not supported by Labor's Cr Paul Spooner, who put up a failed amendment to enquire with Westpac whether or not it was going to invest in the Adani coal mine.

"(The motion) didn't make sense, the motion is basically Green posturing on environmental issues," Cr Spooner.

"They were asking us to divest from Westpac because they hadn't said something, Westpac has not indicated they will be financing the Carmichael coal mine.

"I don't support the Carmichael mine, this is about what should be sensible decision-making.

"We seem to have picked on a bank institution which is a minor player in the fossil fuel industry." 

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