Finance minister attacks bank’s ‘blanket refusal’ and says Queensland coalmines offer significant economic opportunity
Mathias Cormann has described the decision by Westpac to place tougher restrictions on lending to new coal projects as strange and disappointing. The finance minister said that, while banks had the right to make their own lending decisions, coal remained Australia’s second-largest export.
“It was a strange decision,” Cormann said. “Obviously coal is our second-biggest export as a country and there are about six mines have had Queensland government approval as I’m advised.
“Six mines in the Galilee Basin, about 16,000 jobs, and for any major bank to essentially issue a blanket refusal to be involved in any financing is a very, very disappointing development indeed.” Malcolm Turnbull also criticised Westpac for the decision, saying he was disappointed with the bank.
“I think these projects should be examined on their merits. Just echoing what [resources minister] Matt Canavan said, the reality is that the energy solution for Australia has to be all of the above,” he said.
“The idea that Australia, the largest coal exporting nation in the world, the idea that we would suddenly walk away from that enormous resource is extraordinary.”
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