Westpac lies on coal interests - Townsville Bulletin

IN its latest climate change statement, Westpac does not just discriminate against Queensland, they are now lying about it too.

In the Townsville Bulletin yesterday a Westpac spokesperson is quoted as saying that "it would be wrong to suggest that (Westpac's climate change policy) is about favouring one state or region over the other." Yet Westpac's media release about its latest climate change policy states plainly that "Financing for any new thermal coal projects [is] limited to existing coal producing basins." That means that the huge Galilee Basin in North Queensland won't attract any finance from Westpac because it is not in an existing basin.

Westpac says that they will also only fund coal mines that have high quality coal, which they define as coal with an energy content greater than 6300 kilocalories/kg.

Fair enough, but three coal mines in the Galilee Basin plan to produce coal with a higher quality than that. These mines are the South Galilee, Alpha and China First projects. These mines would deliver 9900 jobs in construction, 5583 jobs in operation and $21.2 billion worth of investment.

So Westpac would fund a coal mine in New South Wales of a lower coal quality but not fund one in North Queensland with a higher coal quality. According to Westpac this does not amount to "favouring one state over the other". Perhaps Westpac should never have changed its name from the Bank of New South Wales.

And this is where it gets even murkier. Westpac has a financial interest in half of the Newcastle Port, the biggest coal port in the world. So Westpac says they prefer to invest in coal mines near Newcastle not near Townsville - apparently so they can save the planet. Yet when touting their planet saving credentials, Westpac makes no disclosure that they have a beneficial interest in seeing Newcastle mines perform better than Townsville mines.

That is right; Westpac failed to disclose a financial interest when saying that they would prefer some coal mines in one state (New South Wales) over those in another state (Queensland). That is why Senator Barry O'Sullivan is writing to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to ask whether Westpac has breached any financial disclosure laws.

Westpac has made all of these decisions with almost zero consultation with North Queenslanders. As Townsville Enterprise Limited said yesterday, they were not asked their views. Westpac never spoke to Adani or any other coal miner interested in the Galilee.

Westpac did not speak to the traditional owners who support the development of the Adani Carmichael coal mine. Last year the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples met and agreed 293 to 1 in favour of the Adani mine.

Westpac have not spoken to the 300 million Indians who do not have any electricity at all. India is the fastest growing major economy in the world and we should have a strong relationship with them.

North Queenslanders should do business with businesses that share our interests in developing North Queensland, creating jobs and giving a future for our children to find a job and be able to stay in North Queensland. I am closing all of my Westpac accounts.

Westpac seems more interested in the noisy activists in Sydney than North Queenslanders, traditional owners or poor Indians. I am sure Westpac have had lots of meetings with green activists and go to functions with them, where Westpac starts speeches by saying that they recognise the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.I hope they don't say that any more because it would simply be an insult.

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