… there have been growing reports of larger lenders quietly withdrawing support from industry sectors opposed by animal rights groups amid threats of activist-led consumer backlashes against their brands…
RMAC asks ACCC to investigate bank’s refusal to lend to red meat sector businesses
James Nason, BEEF Central (Australia)
Is a bank within its rights to deny service to any law-abiding business or industry it chooses, or is such action illegal under Australian competition and consumer law?
The question may soon be put to the direct regulatory test after the Red Meat Advisory Council this week asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate alleged contraventions of the secondary boycott provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (the CCA) by Animals Australia and Bank Australia.
RMAC alleges that secondary boycott provisions of the CCA may have been breached through Animals Australia acting in concert with Bank Australia to refuse financial services to Australian red meat and livestock businesses.
Bank Australia’s “responsible banking policy”, which has been publicly promoted by Animals Australia, states the bank does not provide financial services to “organisations that use intensive animal farming systems…or organisations that export live animals”.
Based in Victoria, Bank Australia is an amalgamation of 72 credit unions and co-operatives. Its origins lie in the former CSIRO Co-operative Credit Society. In 2015 it re-branded to the name Bank Australia and describes itself as Australia’s first “customer-owned bank”, operating 14 branches and reporting annual revenue last year of $130 million.
More broadly there have been growing reports of larger lenders quietly withdrawing support from industry sectors opposed by animal rights groups amid threats of activist-led consumer backlashes against their brands.
RMAC alleges Bank Australia’s “responsible banking policy” is a restrictive trade practice that amounts to a secondary boycott of law-abiding Australian red meat and livestock businesses...
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