ANZ told to stop funding poisonous logging in Tasmania

ANZ Group is again under pressure from environmental groups for its support of unsustainable logging. Last week BankTrack, The Wilderness Society and Rainforest Action Network, launched an electronic petition calling on ANZ’s new CEO, Michael Smith to stop financing giant logging company Gunns Ltd.

Gunns is planning to build a new US$1.4 billion pulp mill in Tasmania that would double the company’s current rate of clear-cutting Tasmania ’s old-growth forests, consuming over 4 million tons of logs annually, including many natives. This logging increase would greatly expand Gunns’ routine practices of napalming clear-cut areas and then using 1080 poison to kill tens of thousands of Tasmania ’s native wildlife each year.

In addition to accelerating forest destruction, the mill would produce high amounts of toxins, which would be dumped along with thousands of tons of other polluting effluent into Tasmania’s Bass Strait. The mill would heavily pollute the air in the nearby urban area. The Australian Medical Association has warned that the mill’s emissions will cause increased deaths in the already polluted Tamar Valley.

Since 1995 ANZ has provided crucial financial services to Gunns. Today ANZ provides the company with secured bank loans with a current debt thought to be more than AU$300 million. ANZ is understood to have advised on the project and is also the lead arranger.

Mr Smith can put a halt to the project and prevent widespread destruction to the environment by pulling his bank from financing both Gunns Ltd and the mill.

ANZ so far has managed to kept out of the spotlight regarding Gunns, however environmentalists are now hoping that as Smith assumes his executive responsibilities he will give voice to the bank’s move towards sustainability. David Barnden from BankTrack comments;

“Mr Smith has a wonderful opportunity to show ANZ’s customers, the Australian public, and the world true leadership and commitment to uphold banking industry standards.”

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