Australians intolerant of 'unethical' banks

Almost 50 per cent of Australians would change banks if they found that their bank was behaving unethically, according to a national survey by Oxfam Australia.

In a report titled Still banking on land grabs, it was found that 75 per cent of respondents are against banks providing loans to companies that behave in an unethical manner.

Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke said the report provided new evidence that ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac have been connected with companies that operate unethically.

The report argued the big four have been connected to companies with operations in Cambodia, Brazil and Indonesia 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.

"Australians hold a huge, and very direct, stake in the financial sector's choices in how it uses our money — at home and overseas," she said.

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."

In addition, the report found that 80 per cent of Australians polled believe banks that have had investments that harm a community should provide compensation.

Oxfam Australia criticised CBA and ANZ, indicating that both 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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