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October 23, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Australia's biggest insurer withdraws support for Warragamba Dam

IAG's chairwoman, Elizabeth Bryan, this morning told the Insurance Australia Group (IAG) AGM that discussions with the Colong Foundation for Wilderness and others had made it clear that "a decision to raise the height of the Warragamba Dam wall could well result in the destruction of both large areas of natural environment and also important cultural heritage sites". It came after an agreement was reached between IAG and the Foundation to withdraw a resolution calling for the protection of World Heritage listed Indigenous sites.

"In the past we have expressed support for the raising of the wall. However, we now have additional information concerning the probable loss of significant cultural heritage sites, and important natural habitats," Ms Bryan said.
The Chairwoman further committed to "exploring the appropriateness of IAG becoming a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Sustainable Insurance-WWF-World Heritage Sites initiative."

Gundungurra Traditional Owner, Kazan Brown, said IAG had become the latest company to understand giving "lip service" to preserving culture and art dating back tens of thousands of years was not enough.

"There has been a shift. I have to assume Rio Tinto has set it off.
"These sites are what my family have left behind. They are part of us. It's who we are.
"If the sites go under the only place our culture will exist is in history books. Most went under when the original Warragamba Dam was built in 1960."
Campaign Manager at the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Harry Burkitt, said the Minister for Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, has become almost completely isolated as the sole advocate for the dam raising proposal.
"This represents a major shift of sentiment from the insurance industry on raising the Warragamba Dam wall.
"We are grateful for the serious engagement from the Chairman and her senior executive team. We look forward to developing a co-operative relationship moving forward.
"It's now time for Suncorp, QBE and the Insurance Council of Australia to adopt the same position as IAG on this culturally and environmentally destructive dam proposal."
"Stuart Ayres's shambolic EIS process has convinced no one of the dam proposal's merits. It is clear he doesn't have the support of Federal Government agencies, NSW Government agencies, nor even the biggest player in the Australian insurance industry!
"He's become a lonely shag on a rock."
Media contact:
Harry Burkitt
0490 010 909

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Australian Foundation for Wilderness Limited
ACN 001 112 143
ABN 84 001 112 143
Advocating as 'Wilderness Australia'
Formerly The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
Registered Office 8/154 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000
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