Residents visit banks in a plea to protect the reef
WHITSUNDAY Residents Against Dumping (WRAD) decided to take a personal approach on Thursday when they hand delivered letters to the bank managers of Westpac, ANZ, NAB and the Commonwealth Bank asking them to consider not investing in Abbot Point and dredging of the reef’s waters.
WRAD committee, members of the public and international environmental students delivered the letters last Thursday afternoon.
WRAD spokesperson Brittney Gregory was touched by the community’s turn-out.
“Over the last month WRAD has received over 500 signatures from local members of the community, all agreeing that they do not want their banks to invest in projects, like Abbot Point, that could risk the reef and their livelihoods.
“We want to let them know how their community is feeling about this and it’s a heads up for them that it could be potentially very bad for us but very, very bad for them” she said.
WRAD have members prepared to close down their accounts from these banks if they do not receive a public statement acknowledging the group’s presence.
“We have people who will divest from these banks and will go towards a bank that isn’t involved in any of those projects,” she said.
WRAD member Cherry Muddle said that the letter delivery was not only about protecting the environment but also the local economy.
“Great Barrier Reef is a $6billion tourism industry with 60,000 jobs, we care deeply about the reef environmentally and economically and we need Australia’s big four banks to make a statement ruling out the funding and expansion of Abbot Point,” she said.
A Westpac spokesperson said Westpac does not comment on matters relating to specific companies or projects.
However, he said they did want to emphasise that “we take care to ensure that any projects we support comply with appropriate environmental controls”.
“We commission independent due diligence on high impact projects and work with our customers to ensure that any environmental risks are identified and mitigated,” he said.
MAKING A POINT: Tourism operators Louise Officer and Aaron Stephen hold the Save the Reef poster while Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping member Paul Jukes asks National Australia Bank on Airlie Beach main street to reconsider their contribution to Abbot Point deepwater coal port.