A movement calling for the big four banks to stop supporting fossil fuel projects gains strength from the hysterical reaction of politicians, according to an environmental activist behind the Canberra face of the campaign.
About 40 Canberrans gathered in Garema Place on Monday to close their accounts with the big four banks to protest their continued financing of coal and gas projects, joining hundreds of people across Australia.
Since 2013, the divestment campaign has gathered momentum, but sparked criticism from politicians most recently with Prime Minister Tony Abbott labelling the Australian National University (ANU)'s decision to dump investments with seven resource companies as "stupid".
But the Canberra coordinator of activist group 350.org Josh Creaser said it was those very comments from politicians and the industry that helped the divestment campaign gain traction.
"The hysterical response from parts of the finance press sector and politicians brings into the spotlight how strongly the fossil fuel industry lobbies our politicians," he said.
Mr Creaser said while most politicians supported universities for avoiding investment in the tobacco industry because of its harmful effects, they ignored the impacts of climate change.
Mr Creaser said the activists wanted Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB and ANZ to follow the lead of international banks like HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland and make a public commitment to not invest in the Great Barrier Reef port expansion and Galilee coal project.