May 19, 2015

Dozens of Concerned Residents Peacefully Occupy Melbourne CommBank

MELBOURNE, 20th MAY — Dozens of concerned residents are peacefully occupying CommBank CBD Headquarters on Bourke Street in Melbourne today, calling on the bank to join 11 major international banks in ruling out involvement in the controversial Galilee Basin coal mines and Abbot Point coal port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef.

Today’s event is one of over 100 community actions that are taking place at branches across Australia and around the world in opposition to the Galilee projects. The Melbourne group have refused to leave the bank until CommBank hears their demands.

CommBank is the only Australian bank that has been publicly named as advising on the projects and likely to finance the Carmichael mine – the largest in the Galilee Basin. Recent research from Market Forces has revealed that CommBank is the largest lender to fossil fuel projects on the Reef.

“CommBank says it is the “People’s Bank” yet the people are calling on CommBank to say no to carbon bombs like the Galilee. We’ve emailed, petitioned, had meetings, used our shareholder leverage and moved our money, yet still CommBank remains silent. We are standing here today to tell the Bank that either they heed our call and say no to coal mine and port expansions on the Reef or they face a creative and unrelenting community campaign,” said John Knox, of Airport West.

“I am one of hundreds of CommBank customers who have moved their money out of CommBank. Yet despite losing millions of customer dollars, CommBank still refuses to stand up for our climate and Reef. That’s why I’m taking my concerns to the next level by taking action here today,” said Nicola Paris, of Direct Action Melbourne.

“If CommBank refuses to show leadership by saying no to climate and Reef Destruction, then actions like this will only continue to grow in scale and frequency. As we stand here, people right around the country and the world are making their concerns known to CommBank in creative and bold actions” said Isabella Morand of North Melbourne.

“You cannot call yourself a responsible lender on the one hand whilst on the other do backroom deals with dodgy mining companies like Adani over funding one of the world’s worst carbon bombs.” concluded Morand.

Police have attended the scene. The participants have confirmed they will continue the action for as long as it takes for CommBank to take on the message that is time to drop the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point.

Most of the mines slated for the Galilee Basin would be larger than any others built in Australia and would produce more emissions than the UK and Canada. They would be responsible for sending over 1,100 coal ships directly through the Great Barrier Reef every year.

A May poll of Australians found that 63% of Australians disapprove of the banks financing coal port expansion on the Reef whilst 82% of Australians think that banks should consider the social and environmental impacts of projects they fund compared to only 5% who believe they should only consider profits.

This action was organised by Direct Action Melbourne


Nicola Paris: 0422 990 040

John Knox: 0413 962 318