ANZ AGM erupts as protesters voice climate concerns

A group of climate protesters dressed as circus performs have disrupted the annual general meeting of one of the nation’s biggest banks, ANZ.

As the chair, Paul O’Sullivan, was addressing the AGM held in Brisbane on Thursday, a group of activists, dressed as circus performers, disrupted the event from the audience before the livestream was cut.

The protest lasted about 10 minutes as one activist gave a speech against the bank’s links to fossil fuel companies while others performed acrobatic tricks.

It is understood the protesters smuggled the props and costumes in bags past metal detectors before donning them at the meeting.

Mr O’Sullivan then requested that security remove the protesters who were continuing to disrupt the event.

“This is a forum for all shareholders to express their views, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for any one person to prevent that from happening,” Mr O’Sullivan said, noting that the bank “invites a variety of opinions and a variety of views and we protect free speech”.

“Thank you for expressing your views here this morning.”

After the protesters were removed, Mr O’Sullivan added that the bank was committed to funding emissions-intensive projects but had stringent lending requirements.

“ANZ has a relatively large oil and gas exposure, and that is certainly not something that we shy away from. In fact, we believe it makes our role in the energy transition all the more important,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“If we remove financial support in these companies, it may simply push them to lenders who have less stringent or no requirements on emissions reduction.”

In recent years, ANZ has faced significant backlash from climate activists over its continued links to fossil fuel intensive energy generation.

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