A national survey by Oxfam Australia has revealed that almost 50 per cent of Australians would change banks if they found that their bank was behaving unethically.
The survey, titled Still banking on land grabs, found that 75 per cent of respondents are against banks providing loans to companies behaving in an unethical manner.
Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke said the study provided new evidence that the ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac have been linked to companies that operate unethically.
The report found that the big four have been connected to companies in Cambodia, Brazil and Indonesia – countries that have been involved in illegal logging, forced evictions, inadequate compensation and child labour.
“Our research shows Australians care about how their money is invested. If most people knew that their money could be used to back companies that take land and homes away from people in some of the world’s poorest countries, they’d be shocked,” Ms Szoke said.
She said Australians hold a direct stake in the financial sector’s choices in how it uses our money — in Australia and overseas.
Ms Szoke urged Australia’s banks to take a zero tolerance approach to unethical behaviour.
“This includes being transparent about their links to agriculture land deals, committing to increased due diligence, advocating responsible financing and supporting justice for affected communities,” she said.
According to the survey, 80 per cent of Australians polled believe banks should pay compensation if their investments resulted in a community being harmed.
Oxfam Australia criticised CBA and ANZ, indicating that both banks have done little to address "land grab" issues. NAB and Westpac, according to the report, have developed policies on land-related issues.
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