News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Australian banks face more pressure over support for coal projects; upbeat Alcoa expects $109m cost of closing Australia operations; and senator’s case for killing RET.

Lou Caruana

Australian banks face more pressure over support for coal projects

Pressure on Australia’s big four banks to join the global coal divestment movement is growing, with a Whitsunday tourism operator who succeeded in convincing Deutsche Bank to step away from funding the Abbot Point port expansion in Queensland now targeting Australia’s biggest banks, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association president Tony Brown claimed an unlikely lobbying victory in May when Deutsche Bank temporarily blacklisted the $1.8 billion Abbot Point coal terminal in the waters off the Great Barrier Reef.

The bank said it would wait until agreement was reached between the Australian government and UNESCO over the condition of the Great Barrier Reef before proceeding with any funding deal.

Upbeat Alcoa expects $109m cost of closing Australia operations

The closure of several Australian operations is set to cost aluminium giant Alcoa as much as $109 million before the year end, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Alcoa revealed it had already spent $49 million on ‘‘initial closure activities’’ at the Point Henry Smelter near Geelong and a rolling mill in New South Wales, both of which had their demise confirmed in February.

Senator’s case for killing RET

A government senator has rejected claims of sovereign risk caused by the review of the renewable energy target as “weak”, arguing there is a case to abolish an “insidious impost on every electricity consumer”, according to The Australian.

Deputy government whip in the Senate, Chris Back, said the renewable energy target (RET) was a tax on consumers and conventional energy suppliers to subsidise renewable energy providers but had been “all but totally ineffective’’ in greenhouse gas abatement.

The comments from the West Australian Liberal senator are among the strongest yet from the government ahead of a mandated biennial review of the RET that is due to report at the end of the month and are likely to fan industry fears that the government wants to use it to abolish or weaken the scheme.