ANZ Centre in lockdown as environmental protest “gets aggressive”

ANZ say they are worried about the safety of their employees after protesters allegedly blocked access to a lift and bathroom at their 833 Collins Street building.

Bank spokesman Stephen Ries said the protest at the ANZ Centre in Docklands on Wednesday afternoon was “getting aggressive”.

He said the building was in lockdown and the Docklands ANZ had been temporarily closed.

“It’s disappointing today’s protest has escalated to a point where we are now concerned for the safety of our people with protesters blocking normal access to the building,” he said.

“We’ve offered to sit down and discuss the protesters issues but they’ve made it clear they are not interested in a dialogue at this stage.”

About 80 people from the Pacific Climate Warriors reportedly gained access to the site to protest ANZ’s financing of new fossil fuel, linking it to the impact of climate change on the Pacific Islands.

They are carrying signs that say “ANZ Invests in Climate Chaos” and “Don’t drown the Pacific”.

The group is made up of Melbourne residents and Pacific Islanders who have arranged themselves in circles and are chanting poems and testimonials.

Mikaele Maiava from Pacific Climate Warriors said the group was not aiming to be difficult, but “send a message to ANZ that the money needs to be invested in a more sustainable future”.

He said, contrary to ANZ’s claims, employees seemed to have no problem with their protest. “They’re actually pretty happy. They are standing around and watching and applauding,” Mr Maiava said.

As the protest continued on Wednesday afternoon, security guards were barring all but ANZ employees with official passes from entering the building. Chanting could be heard emanating from inside the building.

A young woman said she was meant to be attending a job interview, but was temporarily made to wait outside.

A police spokeswoman said officers were called to the “peaceful” climate protest at 8.40am on Wednesday and had “cleared” the group by 10am.

However the measure has appeared to have worked only temporarily.

Mr Ries said ANZ was “committed to working with our customers, with governments, and with other stakeholders to transition to a lower carbon future and we remain one of the leading lenders to the renewables sector”.


This article originally appeared on The Age website, first published on 22 October 2014. Written with Aisha Dow.

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