Families are being displaced from land they’ve lived on for generations. And it’s happening without their consent.
Oxfam’s research in developing countries shows that Australia’s Big 4 Banks — the ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac — are backing agricultural and timber companies accused of land grabs. These companies are accused of forcing local people from their homes and lands without proper consent or compensation. This is leaving communities homeless and hungry.
What is your bank doing?
Oxfam Australia’s report, Banking on Shaky Ground, includes evidence that ANZ, Westpac, National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth Bank have backed companies that have contributed to illegal logging, forced evictions, food shortages and child labour.
In Cambodia, ANZ is financing a sugar plantation that has involved child labour, military backed land grabs, forced evictions and food shortages.
The Commonwealth Bank has invested in an agribusiness giant, whose Brazilian sugar mill is sourcing sugar from people occupying land in defiance of Brazilian laws that determined the Indigenous people evicted for the sugar plantation are the true owners of the land.
National Australia Bank
Across Asia, the NAB has been funding Asian Palm Oil giant Wilmar – which has been linked to land grab allegations in Indonesia and Malaysia, since 2011. A NAB loan last year came after Newsweek had ranked Wilmar as the least sustainable company in the world for its environmental performance for two years running. Whilst Wilmar has since taken steps to address land grabs, NAB has not.
In PNG, Westpac is linked to a timber company that is logging pristine rainforest in defiance of an explicit finding by PNG’s Commission of Inquiry into Special Agricultural Business Leases that the lease to this land was invalid and should be revoked.
In addition to the four cases (one per Bank) investigated in detail by Oxfam, our report also contains a further 12 allegations of links between the Big Four and other companies accused of land grabbing. We know that these cases established by Oxfam are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Australia’s big four banks’ association with land grabs. Any credible journalist who goes looking for more cases will no doubt find them. This is why Oxfam wants our banks to take urgent action to change their policies and practices across the Board. Simply addressing each individual case on its own will not deliver either the protection the banks are seeking, or the assurance Australians want that their money is not going towards kicking poor people off their lands.