Senate to condemn Whitehaven hoax

Opposition Senate leader Eric Abetz will today move a motion to condemn anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan, who released a fake media statement that temporarily wiped $314 million off Whitehaven Coal stocks.

The Australian reports the motion calls on senators to note that endorsements of the hoax are “inconsistent with concepts of economic responsibility, participatory democracy, efforts to enforce standards of media reporting and the rule of law”.

The move aims to underline divisions between the Greens and Labor on the issue, as well as divisions that exist inside the Greens.

Last month Moylan released a fake media statement claiming ANZ had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan to Whitehaven to help develop the Maules Creek mine.

An AAP journalist then wrote the story, and it was distributed across Fairfax and News Limited mastheads.

The false story caused a temporary sell-off for Whitehaven shares before the company was placed in a trading halt and news of the hoax circulated.

In the motion he will bring to the Senate today Abetz warns similar hoaxes have the ability to “undermine confidence in Australia's sharemarket”.

He also told The Australian Greens leader Christine Milne's move to support Moylan “completely shreds” her economic credentials.

While the hoax has drawn sharp criticism from Whitehaven and parts of the business community, anti-coal lobbyists, and most parts of the Greens, have rallied to support Moylan.

Protesters said the act represented an “important act of civil disobedience” and highlighted ANZ and Whitehaven's contribution to “catastrophic climate change”.

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