Oxfam Australia CEO Helen Szoke said the organisation’s recent survey, titled Still banking on land grabs, found that the ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac have been linked to companies that operate unethically.
The survey 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.
Furthermore, 75 per cent of survey respondents were against banks providing loans to companies behaving in an unethical manner, while almost 50 per cent would change banks if they found that their bank was behaving unethically.
Meanwhile, 80 per cent of respondents believe banks should pay compensation if their investments resulted in a community being harmed.
Ms Szoke has 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.
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.