Opinion: Optics not ethics driving banking’s social conscience

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin, 16/11/2021

Keeping family farms in business is a central platform of the Federal Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

It might seem ironic to some that banks these days have a set of principles they hold potential customers to when deciding whether or not to lend to them – or even to keep them as a customer.

These ‘Environment, Social, and Governance’ (ESG) standards cover areas that include environmental sustainability, affordable housing, and financial well-being.

Recently, ANZ published their ESG Supplement for 2021, which includes a set of animal welfare principles.

ANZ formed these principles with almost no engagement with the livestock industry or any of Australia’s state farming bodies, including AgForce, instead choosing to seek input from Animals Australia (AA) and RSPCA.

AgForce has previously publicly supported a position of “zero tolerance for animal cruelty in Australian agriculture.

In fact, this country’s animal welfare standards are one of the main reasons we produce food and fibre often considered the envy of the world.

There are regulations at a Federal and State level, and AgForce has its own animal welfare policy, aligned to these and to the National Farmers’ Federation’s policy, which we helped develop.

What ANZ’s ESG Supplement seeks to do, however, is not only see that these welfare standards are adhered to, but that customers “exceed” them – without any further explanation as to where exceed starts and ends.

The ESG also states that ANZ “received over 2,000 emails in 2020 and 2021 supporting AA’s position, all of which we responded to explaining our work to consider the issues and offering discussion with the complainants.”

Which seems to indicate that ANZ is prepared to appoint themselves judge, jury, and even executioner on nothing more than hearsay from animal activists when it comes to deciding whether or not to financially support a farmer’s business.

Surely though, if there is an animal welfare issue, then it is government’s place to investigate and take action – not a bank’s.


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  1. Henry Ramage, 17/11/2021

    Hi, just typical of the banks. We seem to be going through a time where the “do gooders ” are winning with their ways. Take RSPCA a stealthy mob coles will only take eggs from an approved rspca breeder, The Angus society going the same way.
    No loyalist in the Banks . They know we require some one to transfer monies for us so treat us as expendable. regards Henry.

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