Oxfam today congratulated National Australia Bank on taking a significant step forward in playing their part to stop unfair land deals that leave people around the world homeless and hungry.
The NAB today took the step of releasing a policy on improper land acquisitions which clearly outlines what actions the bank will take to seek to ensure their business dealings respect land rights.
The release of the NAB policy on land grabs comes six months after Oxfam released a report Banking on Shaky Ground: Australia’s Big Four Banks and Land Grabs which showed Australia’s big four banks are backing companies involved in unfair land deals – often referred to as ‘land grabs’ – in the agriculture and forestry sectors. The impacts on affected communities include food shortages, loss of livelihoods and contamination of local water.
Oxfam Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke today welcomed NAB’s announcement of the policy.
“The NAB policy is important because it clearly states that the bank will not lend to companies where credible evidence exists that they have engaged in land grabbing,” Dr Szoke said.
“It also clearly outlines what the bank will do to respect land rights and makes land rights part of its annual reporting.”
Dr Szoke said while the NAB policy was a positive step, all of Australia’s banks have much further to go to ensure that they don’t back land grabs overseas.
“As yet, none of the big four banks have committed to adequate disclosure of land investments and to ensuring that people involved in land deals give truly free, prior and informed consent,” Dr Szoke said.
“We congratulate NAB on this first step and look forward to doing more work with them to further improve their commitment to land rights.”
Since April over 8,000 Australians have written to their banks and 17,000 have signed a petition calling for the banks to take action on land grabs.
To read Oxfam’s report Banking on Shaky Ground: Australia’s Big Four Banks and Land Grabs
For interviews or more information, please contact Louise Perry on 0414 456 015 or Louisep@oxfam.org.au