Ratepayers money “at risk” from Ryde’s green investment policy

A Rescission Motion to scrap the City of Ryde’s green driven policy to withdraw investments of around $200 million of ratepayers money from financial institutions that invest in fossil fuel energy was defeated by seven votes to five at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The Rescission Motion by the Ryde Liberals – backed by Independent Clr Roy Maggio – called for the policy to be scrapped until the council had received financial assurances that investments would not nosedive as a result of it.

The defeated motion also sparked debate on the reality of climate change with Liberal Clr Chris Moujalli warning Ryde not to vilify fossil fuel energy.

“We do not want to go down the path of South Australia, where they have an alternative energy policy and power cuts,” he said.

“We already have to pay the cost of power bills going up that effects our households and our businesses.

“Our country was built on fossil fuels and must we now look badly on them ?”

The Greens Clr Edwina Clifton strongly disagreed.

“Our top priority must be to adapt to the inevitable reality of climate change and the burning of fossil fuels is what is causing climate change .. to say mining is keeping the economy going is a fallacy.”

For Liberal Trenton Brown the debate was not about ideology but economics.

“Like every one dollar coin you have heads and tails, return and risk and we no little about the risk of this policy,” he said.

“It is not about ideology, we simply want a report.”

Councillor Maggio said the council had no right to adopt the policy with a risk assessment.

“This council has no mandate to invest $200 million in ratepayer’s money without a report to say this policy is beneficial and our staff support it, because our ratepayers pay high rates and deserve better.”

Mayor Laxale said council staff will provide monthly reports and that he is “comfortable” with the system of financial checks and balances in place.

Liberal Clr Jordan Lane said a staff report falls short of a detailed risk assessment into investing in so called “environmentally correct” institutions.

“This Rescission Motion is standing between ratepayer’s money and a possible financial train wreck,” Clr Lane said.

“Are we going to invest $200 million in something that is not secure?”

It would not be the first time the City of Ryde has been stung by investment losses with the council losing around three million dollars during the recent world financial crisis, although staff assured councillors the council is continuing to recover past losses.

Councillor Penny Pedersen assured councillors that the new investment policy “hardly puts Ryde at risk” and that major European institutions and other Sydney councils are leading the way in divesting money into alternative energy safe portfolios.