By David Salvaire
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition is leading a push for people to dump banks that support the controversial Abbot Point coal port expansion in north Queensland.
The Dump My Bank campaign comes after a study from left-leaning think tank The Australia Institute that found 44% of people surveyed would consider moving away from a bank that supported the development of Abbot Point.
Dean Leggo, coordinator for the AYCC in Western Australia, says banks aren’t listening to customers.
“We’ve been talking to these banks for two years asking them not to finance Abbot Point.
“It’s a major financial and reputational risk for them but they haven’t responded,” he says.
“That’s why we’re telling people if you want to protect the climate and save the Great Barrier Reef, move your money, dump your bank and move to an institution that doesn’t invest in Abbot Point.”
The expansion of the port was approved by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt in 2013 but the development still needs private funding to go ahead.
Dr Linda Selvey from Curtin University says big banks haven’t considered the risks involved in financing the port.
“There’s a direct risk to the Barrier Reef by having increased shipping and the dredging that’s required for the coal port.
“If people are angry they need to let the banks know how they feel. If the banks don’t listen I would suggest people make a change. I did that myself a while ago now, it’s really not that hard,” she says.
Coal is Australia’s second largest export after iron ore and last year a record 215 million tonnes were shipped through Queensland ports.
The Minerals Council of Australia says growth is the reason more development is needed.
“As the amount of vital goods exported through Queensland grow, so must the capacity of ports and the number of ship movements through the Great Barrier Reef,” the lobby group says.
The Australian Bankers’ Association has been approached for comment.