Cr Johnson said he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the decision taken by fellow councillors on his motion.
Cr Johnson said he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the decision taken by fellow councillors on his motion.

Council rejects motion to divest from fossil fuel industry

Ballina Shire Council has rejected a motion to push for it to walk away from fossil fuel-aligned investments.

Councillor Jeff Johnson moved the motion, which aimed for council to stop investing in financial institutions that support the fossil fuel industry.

Cr Keith Williams said this was an issue he would normally support, but voted against the motion.

“I’m totally unconvinced by the processes suggested in this motion,” he said.

Cr Ben Smith offered a personal dig at Cr Johnson by pointing at one of his main projects – an ocean pool for Ballina.

“I’ve been doing some research about sources of CO2 in the atmosphere, and concrete production is eight per cent of global CO2,” he said.

“This council is still currently committed to building an ocean pool in a marine platform using up to 1000 cubic meters of concrete.”

Cr Cadwallader said she was passionate about Ballina having a ‘greener council’ but did not support the motion.

“I don’t support going down this path because of where it might lead us to,” she said.

Cr Eoin Johnston said he agreed with the spirit of the motion.

“Can’t argue with the philosophy, but I think it’s a step too far for us, we are going though difficult times,” he said.

A similar motion was approved by council in November 2015. Back then 57 per cent of council’s investment were aligned in such a way.

In November 2020, five years after the Ballina Council formally resolved to divest, it had 64 per cent of its investments with fossil fuel-aligned institutions.

The motion aimed to make council’s first investment preference to only invest in financial institutions that no longer provided new loans for the fossil fuel industry.

The motion also asked council to write to all major banks and financial institutions, asking them to clarify their position in regards to offering new loans for fossil fuel investments.

But the motion was lost today, with Cr Johnson declaring he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the decision.

“I think maybe I need some glasses, because it looks like they are reading totally different things,” he said.