Media Release: ANZ bank run: dozens of customers close their accounts in fossil fuel protest
Melbourne, 26 October 2013
In an Australian first, dozens of ANZ customers collectively closed their accounts in protest of ANZ’s role as a major lender to the fossil fuel industry. Customers formed a queue stretching around the corner of the Bourke Street Mall branch as it opened, dressed in t-shirts saying “ANZ chose fossil fuels, so I chose another bank”.
Over the past five years, ANZ has loaned more – over $1.1 billion – to coal and gas export ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area than any other commercial bank. This year, hundreds of customers of ANZ and fellow major coal and gas funders Commonwealth, Westpac and NAB have warned that unless these fossil fuel loans stop, they will move their money elsewhere.
Today was the first demonstration that these customers are prepared to make good on their word.
“I’ve been concerned for years about the threats to the climate and environment caused by fossil fuels like coal and gas. To learn that my bank – ANZ – was massively funding these environmentally damaging industries was deeply troubling”, said Eliza Turnbull, one of the ANZ customers who closed their accounts. “Today was great – it enabled me to align my money closer to my values, and I also got to send a powerful message to ANZ so hopefully they’ll realise they need to stop investing in dirty fossil fuels.”
Throughout 2013 proposed coal mines have been taken to court, local businesses along the Great Barrier Reef coast have united to oppose dredging, students have forced the ANU to divest from coal seam gas, a hoax media release caused a temporary drop in Whitehaven Coal’s share price and the financial frailties of coal project proponents have been exposed.
Market Forces Lead Campaigner Julien Vincent said: “You have to ask how much risk ANZ want to expose themselves – and their shareholders – to. The fossil fuel industry is already facing fierce resistance from Australian communities impacted by coal and gas, companies are at risk of going bust while major projects get shelved and cancelled. Add to that a customer base publicly mutinying against the bank and the option of ending fossil fuel investments should be pretty obvious to ANZ.”
”It’s time ANZ opened their eyes to the growing movement of financially literate and environmentally aware consumers who care about what their money is doing”, said Charlotte Wood, 350.org Australia Campaigns Director. “Today’s events serve as a warning to fossil fuel investors like ANZ that they will lose more customers if they continue lending to industries that are wreaking havoc with local communities and the climate.”
For further information about this campaign, visit www.marketforces.org.au/banks