Australian Local Government Fossil Fuel Divestment

In Australia, fossil fuel divestment is being led by Universities and Local Councils as part of the global fossil fuel divestment campaign launched by 350.org in 2011. In 2015, the number of Australian councils with divestment commitments increased dramatically from 2 to 17.[1]On 15 September 2016, the status of Australian council divestment was:

  • Fossil free investment funds held by Australian Local Councils: $6,181,195,620
  • Number of Local Councils with fossil free divestment commitments: 27[2]

Most Australian councils cannot invest in shares, meaning they have no investments directly in climate-change-contributing fossil fuel companies. However, most councils have exposure to fossil fuels via their term deposit accounts with the big Australian banks whom in turn are financing billions of dollars worth of coal and gas projects across the country.[3] Many councils have been identifying their exposure to ‘fossil’ banks and have found that the majority of Australian banks (particularly banks other than the ‘big four’) do not provide finance for the fossil fuel industry.

Research on which banks fund the fossil fuel industry, and those that do not, has been completed and is routinely updated by Market Forces[4] an independent research organisation. Although there have been some public commitments [5] indicating the Australian ‘big four’ banks will not invest in certain fossil fuel related projects, at 30 June 2016, the ‘big four’ remain heavily invested in fossil fuel.

Local Council Divestment by State or Territory

Local Councils in Australia are the level of government that is most in touch with wishes and needs of the local community. A growing number of local councils have made commitments to divest their funds from fossil fuel companies and institutions.

Commitments and Documentation
The following tables summarise the divestment actions and commitments of Australian local councils. The table includes references to documents recording council investment & divestment policies and divestment motions that were put before the council, voted on and passed. These documents can be used as a reference point for other councils considering fossil fuel divestment.

Council Amalgamations and Changes
Note in 2016, several NSW local councils were subject to forced amalgamation by the NSW State Government. These councils were put under administration and the democratically elected councillors were sacked. The councils currently continue to operate but it is expected there will be changes resulting from the mergers and enforced state government policy. The motivation and justification for amalgamation appears to be due to objection to the proposed WestConnex motorway by the councils and the community. The Geographical boundaries of councils are also subject to periodic review. The following table refers to Councils as an organisational unit at the time the commitment is made.

Australian Capital Territory

The existence of local government in Australia is an exclusive “power of the states or territories”. Due to the relative small size of the ACT, there are no smaller local governments. The ACT government is responsible for the roles that are otherwise performed by a local council.

Council Divestment Date Population Funds at Time of Divestment Documentation
Australian Capital Territory Aug 2015 390,800 $4,505,315,000 [6]

New South Wales

Council Divestment Date Population Funds at Time of Divestment Documentation
Marrickville Council Jan 2015 83,356 $55,000,340 [7]
Leichhardt Municipal Council Mar 2015 58,136 $79,702,199 [8][9][10][11]
Lismore City Council Mar 2015 44,629 $50,017,029 [12]
Gloucester Shire Council Aug 2015 5,064 $6,419,922 [13]
Newcastle City Council Aug 2015 160,021 $286,104,501 [14]
Byron Shire Council Oct 2015 32,119 $75,962,424 [15]
Albury City Council Nov 2015 51,082 $81,190,223 [16][17]
Ballina Shire Council Nov 2015 41,644 $69,289,000 [18]
Randwick City Council Dec 2015 143,776 $75,091,000 [19]

Tasmania

Council Divestment Date Population Funds at Time of Divestment Documentation
Hobart City Council Apr 2015 50,655 $40,962,000 [20]

Victoria

Council Divestment Date Population Funds at Time of Divestment Documentation
Moreland City Council Oct 2014 163,488 $39,212,931 [21]
City of Melbourne Oct 2015 122,207 $12,596,569 [22]
Banyule City Council Nov 2015 125,503 $93,640,000 [23]
Macedon Ranges Shire Council Dec 2015 44,715 $5,946,000 [24]
City of Wodonga Mar 2016 38,131 $16,874,361 [25]
Mt Alexander Shire Council Apr 2016 18,102 $13,017,000 [26]
City of Ballarat Jun 2016 100,283 $76,854,921 [27]
Bass Coast Shire Jul 2016 31,623 $17,440,000 [28]

Western Australia

Council Divestment Date Population Funds at Time of Divestment Documentation
City of Fremantle Aug 2014 30,883 $100,184,940 [29][30]
Shire of Goomalling Feb 2015 991 $1,000,000 [31]
City of Armadale Nov 2015 77,586 $122,248,041 [32][33]
Town of Bassendean Mar 2016 16,288 $8,609,493 [34]
City of Stirling May 2016 227,367 $201,318,794 [35]
Town of East Fremantle Jun 2016 7,831 $5,702,520 [citation needed]
City of Vincent Aug 2016 37,279 $19,683,412 [citation needed]
City of Swan Sep 2016 130,013 $121,813,000 [citation needed]

Other States

In South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, there are no known council fossil fuel divestments at this time.

Community Support and Information Sources

Local community groups around Australia are supporting Australian councils to divest. The results of their work has been compiled by Fossil Free Australia and the source of information comes from publicly available sites and documents found in the Public domain.[36]

References

  1. ^“350.org.au – Local Government Leadership on Fossil Fuel Divestment – Published November 2015” (PDF).
  2. ^“Fossil Free Councils – gofossilfree.org.au/fossil-free-councils”.
  3. ^“Aligning Council Money With Council Values” (PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 26 February 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  4. ^“Market Forces: Fossil fuels – where does your bank stand?”.
  5. ^“Adani and Commonwealth Bank part ways”.
  6. ^“ACT Government to divest from fossil fuels”.
  7. ^“Marrickville Council – Council Meeting Minutes – 25 Nov 2014 – page 6”.
  8. ^“LEICHHARDT COUNCIL VOTES TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS – 11 March 2015”.
  9. ^“Leichhardt Municipal Council – COUNCIL LEADING THE WAY ON FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT – 2016”.
  10. ^“Leichhardt Municipal Council – Policy Meeting Minutes – 10 March 2015 – Page 12”.
  11. ^“Leichhardt Municipal Council – FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT: COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS Policy Meeting Report – 10 March 2015 – Page 36”.
  12. ^“Lismore City Council – ORDINARY MEETING Minutes – 10 March 2015 – Section 9.2”.
  13. ^“Gloucester Shire Council – MINUTES OF THE ORDINARY MEETING – 19 August 2015 – Item 146/15”.
  14. ^“City of Newcastle – Minutes of Ordinary Council Meeting – 25 August 2015 – Item 64 – Page 23”.
  15. ^“Byron Shire Council – ORDINARY MEETING Minutes – 8 October 2015 – Motion 9.2”.
  16. ^“Albury City Council – Investment Policy – November 2015 – Page 3 – Item 5”.
  17. ^“Albury City Council – Meeting Minutes – 23 November 2015 – Page 4- Item 7C”.
  18. ^“Ballina Shire Council – Item 13.1 – Notice of Motion – Divestment from Fossil Fuel Aligned Financial Institutions – 26 Nov 2015 – Page 122”.
  19. ^“Randwick City Council – ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING BUSINESS PAPER – 1 December 2015 – Page 15”.
  20. ^“Hobart City Council – Minutes – 27 April 2015 – Page 35-36, & Attachment” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  21. ^“Moreland City Council – MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING – 10 June 2015 – Page 10”. Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  22. ^“City of Melbourne – Council Meeting Minutes – 27 October 2015 – Page 6” (PDF).
  23. ^“Banyule City Council – Ordinary Meeting of Council Minutes – 9 November 2015 – Page 14” (PDF).
  24. ^“Macedon Ranges Shire Council – Council Meeting Minutes – 16 December 2015 – Page 29-30”.
  25. ^“City of Wodonga – Minutes for the Ordinary meeting of the council – 21 March 2016 – Page 46-52” (PDF).
  26. ^“Mt Alexander Shire Council – MINUTES FOR THE ORDINARY MEETING OF COUNCIL – 12 April 2016 – Page 55-58” (PDF).
  27. ^“City of Ballarat – Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes – 8 June 2016 – Page 12” (PDF).
  28. ^“Bass Coast Shire Council – Agenda for Ordinary Meeting – Wednesday 20 July 2016 – Page 80”.
  29. ^“City of Fremantle – Minutes of Ordinary Meeting of Council – 27 August 2014 – Page 101” (PDF).
  30. ^“City of Fremantle – Policy SG41 – Investment – 27 August 2014” (PDF).
  31. ^“Shire of Goomalling – Minutes of – 4 February 2015 – Page 15 – Item 12.4”.
  32. ^“City of Armadale – Ordinary Meeting of Council Minutes – 23 November 2015 – Pages 7–8” (PDF).
  33. ^“City of Armadale – Policy Manual Procedures and Practices – FIN 4 – 23 November 2015 – Pages 82, 277–279” (PDF).
  34. ^“Town of Bassendean – Minutes [of the] Ordinary Council Meeting – Item 10.16 – 22 March 2016”. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 22 July2016.
  35. ^“City of Stirling – Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting – Item 10.16 – 3 May 2016 – Page 323” (PDF).
  36. ^“Fossil Free Australia”.

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