At Clarence Valley Council (CVC), the lone Green (and only politically declared councillor), Greg Clancy, has regularly brought up a concept he put forward in a Notice of Motion (NOM) in November 2016; for CVC to “actively seek to divest its term investment portfolio from all fossil fuel-aligned financial institutions”.
Cr Clancy outlined that the divestment would have to follow CVC’s Investment Policy and that the interest rate of any new investment would be “comparable or better than those offered by fossil fuel-aligned financial institutions”.
On that occasion, Cr Clancy was only supported by Cr Peter Ellem.
Since then, as a point of protest, Cr Clancy has often (but not always) voted against the monthly investment report – Cr Ellem usually follows suit.
At the October 27, 2020 CVC meeting, Cr Clancy asked why the ‘Climate Change’ heading in the ‘Monthly Investment Report – September 2020’ “didn’t have anything of substance in relation to the impact of council’s decisions on its investments”?
The ‘Climate Change’ heading notes: “Climate Change impact of the current investment portfolio has not been undertaken; investments are driven by the current Investment Policy.”
“I understand we probably can’t quantify it to any great degree, but there should be a statement, at least, that the council’s investments are having an adverse impact on climate change,” he said in debate.
“…AMP, ANZ, Bank of Queensland, CBA, Macquarie Bank, NAB, Westpac … currently make up 65 per cent of council’s investments”.
Cr Clancy said, “that’s sort of the reverse of when I first got on council, where we had about 65 per cent investments with banks” that don’t invest in fossil fuel-aligned institutions.
“So, I think we’ve gone backwards, and I think that’s very sad,” he said.
Cr Andrew Baker: “Mr Mayor, I’m just concerned that Cr Clancy has inferred that council’s investments support the institutions that the investments are with.
“My understanding of these investments is that they give us money, as interest, in return for the council money.
“That’s not support, that’s just a commercial transaction to get some interest from somewhere.”
Cr Baker “suggested” that quantifying investments with institutions that don’t invest in fossil fuels “would take more people and more research capability than this council has in total”.
“So, if there is some way that Cr Clancy believes it can be quantified, perhaps it should be put up as a notice of motion with his formula as to how,” Cr Baker said.
Cr Clancy: “Point of order Mr Mayor, I’m being misrepresented – I made it quite clear I didn’t expect it to be a deep, detailed, quantified statement, but at least a qualified statement, which can give some indication.”
Mayor Jim Simmons: “Well, you know, you know, I will hold in Cr Clancy’s favour, but Cr Clancy we are getting pretty much to the sharp point where we are talking about reports being quantified or qualified or whatever. Um, anyway, we should move on.”
Cr Baker: “Council makes its decisions not as a matter of who they support, but where these institutions fit in … they need to make it onto the triple A or AA rating [list].
“…And if there is to be a NOM with something meaningful from Cr Clancy, apart from the monthly grandstanding, then perhaps we can debate that at the time.”