Australian news, and some related international items

Westpac in tune with Australians about climate. Government sadly out of touch

Westpac’s anti-coal stance exposes a Coalition out of sync with business and public on climate  Mark Kenny,  Obviously Westpac’s public ‘un-friending’ of new coal – for which you can read Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in the Galiliee Basin – is a body blow for a project whose backers are thinning by the day.

Westpac is the last of the big four Australian banks to bin Adani’s publicly toxic prospectus.

All are unmoved by the lure of ongoing coal profits, especially if it comes with ties to a venture that has become a byword for climate change denial.

Adani will continue to seek other financiers – including extraordinarily, the Australian taxpayer from whom it is telling Indian backers, it remains eligible for a $1 billion loan. This is despite the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund rules, which appear to render it ineligible.

With or without that welfare, the business case for new coal generally and the Adani mine in particular, looks to be ebbing. Fast.

Westpac’s decision is an environmental declaration of intent. But it is a coldly commercial one also that recognises what the Australian government defiantly rejects: coal’s day has passed.

Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan hit out strongly at the bank, suggesting it had succumbed to the inner-city politics of Sydney rather than the employment needs of the sunshine state. Remarkably, Canavan – cabinet minister – even advocated a boycott, counselling potential customers to back a bank that backs Queensland’s interests.

Doubtless there would be many Queenslanders upset by the Adani venture, not least the thousands already employed around the Great Barrier Reef.

Besides, Westpac is hardly going out on a limb. Try going to the AGL website. One of the nation’s biggest energy companies has announced a new campaign to end its association with coal entirely: “The reasons for getting out of coal are all around us” its homepage proclaims.

Privately, Malcolm Turnbull must surely be hoping the Adani thing just goes away.  The PM may be a progressive rationalist at heart but in his head there are other realities to balance. Party room realities like Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, and the Nationals, whose head-in-the-sand record on climate change has left farmers so exposed that even the National Farmers Federation now proposes a carbon price.

Paul Keating once described Turnbull as a cherry on a compost heap. The trouble with compost heaps is they tend to be stationary. This issue is anything but, and if you want proof, just follow the money.


May 1, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics

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