Res­i­dents visit banks in a plea to pro­tect the reef

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Char­lotte Lam

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.

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