POLITICS

Climate Activists Target Westpac ATMs In Adani Mine Protest

Calls for bank to distance itself from controversial coal mine.

28/03/2017 5:42 PM AEDT | Updated 29/03/2017 4:53 PM AEDT
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Graphics projected on buildings in Melbourne overnight.

Westpac ATMs nationwide were given a "facelift" overnight by climate activists calling on the bank to rule out supporting the controversial Adani coal mine.

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition plastered ATMs in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Tasmania with a new screen, asking customers "will Westpac use your money to: fund Adani's dangerous coal mine near the Great Barrier Reef; protect our climate and rule out the Adani coal mine".

The group also projected anti-Adani graphics on buildings in Melbourne, including Westpac branches and the Flinders Street station.

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The graphics posted on Westpac ATMs around the country by the AYCC

"Westpac are the only big bank who haven't distanced themselves from Adani's controversial coal project, and young people are sick of them dragging their feet instead of safeguarding our future," AYCC's campaign director Gemma Borgo-Caratti told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Westpac claim to be the 'world's most sustainable company' but in 2016 they invested $1451million in fossil fuels and have previously provided for Adani loaning $640m to help them purchase and expand the coal export terminal at Abbot Point."

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Posters in Melbourne putting pressure on Westpac

The proposed Carmichael coal mine near Townsville has been embroiled in a political, economic and environmental brouhaha for years now, with the prospect of thousands of new jobs pitted against the impacts it would have on the Great Barrier Reef. Indian coal company Adani wants to build its mine, to be the largest in the southern hemisphere, in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and transport coal from there via rail to the coast -- right on the cusp of arguably Australia's greatest natural wonder, the reef.

The proposal includes a terminal at Abbot Point, which would see large ships passing around the reef, as well as massive dredging in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Christensen is among many Coalition members very in favour of the mine, citing massive employment opportunities and other economic benefits -- but green groups have been waging a long campaign against the mine, citing damage to the reef and the possibility of contamination in the event of an accident.

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Graphics projected on buildings in Melbourne

In a statement, a Westpac Spokesperson said "we take our sustainability position very seriously and will not provide finance to companies or projects that do not comply with our rigorous sustainability and environmental controls."

"However, it is Westpac's long standing policy not to comment on matters relating to specific companies or projects."

Last week, Ben & Jerry's ice cream came out against the Adani mine. Nationals MP George Christensen called for a boycott of the brand for their stance.

Borgo-Caratti said the AYCC would continue its campaign against Westpac until the bank ruled out supporting the mine.

"For three years AYCC and the general public have been calling on Westpac to do the right thing, this morning we sent a letter to the management of Westpac calling on them to rule out funding Adani and adjust their policy in line with science," she said.

"If Westpac continue to sit on their hands while the Reef bleaches, and we're hit with more extreme weather young people will have no choice but to increase the intensity of the campaigns."

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