Jul 29th 2021

"Gutless" Macquarie gags questions from First Nations people at contentious AGM

At Macquarie Bank's Annual General Meeting today, executives dodged, prevaricated and cut off questions from First Nations people opposed to the bank's investments in fracking projects in Australia and the United States.

First Nations proxy shareholders waiting to ask questions about Macquarie's funding of Empire Energy's fracking projects across the Northern Territory's Beetaloo and MacArthur Basins, and fracking in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, were denied the opportunity to question Macquarie executives. Macquarie abruptly ended the meeting early after falsely claiming there were no more questions — even as seven First Nations people waited in the queue.

Macquarie Bank chair Peter Warne and other Macquarie representatives refused to provide adequate answers to questions about the Macquarie-funded fracking projects' lack of consent from Traditional Owners, as well as the projects' carbon emissions.

Warne paid lip-service to the need to cut carbon emissions, while defending Macquarie's growing investments in fossil fuel projects that will pump millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, further exposing First Nations communities to the dangers of a changed climate.

More than 19,000 Australians have signed a GetUp petition demanding that Macquarie withdraw funding from these destructive projects, divest itself of its Empire Energy shareholdings, and commit to working with First Nations people under the principles of free, prior and informed consent laid out by the United Nations.

GetUp First Nations Justice Campaign Director Larissa Baldwin said:

"What gutless and cowardly behaviour from Macquarie Bank. At the Annual General Meeting today, Macquarie Bank executives couldn't even look their shareholders in the eye and tell them the truth about the fracking projects Macquarie is helping to fund. 

"Multiple First Nations people waiting to ask questions in the AGM were denied their opportunity to speak, with the meeting unceremoniously cut short when executives realised they would have to face hard questions.

"Instead of real admissions about the human and environmental costs these projects will cause, Macquarie chair Peter Warne, CEO Shemara Wikramanayake and other Macquarie representatives refused to hear questions from First Nations people who are trying to stop these projects from destroying their country and communities.

"Even those questions that Macquarie allowed to be asked were met with platitudes, corporate doublespeak and all-round bullshit.

"We've seen this kind of thing at AGMs before. When executives know they can't justify destroying communities and the planet for profit, they gag the people trying to hold them accountable.

"Macquarie is running scared — from its own shareholders, from the First Nations people it claims to be working with, and from the truth. The only way Macquarie can salvage its reputation is by divesting itself of energy corporations like Empire Energy, and committing to no longer funding fossil fuel projects."

Media contact: Alex McKinnon 0411 829 334


Larissa Baldwin, First Nations Justice Campaign Director at GetUp