Westpac has announced it will refuse loans to farmers clearing land on their property, prohibiting dairy, beef and sheep farmers from further converting natural forest to agricultural land use from 2026. Westpac said the decision to prohibit loans to land clearing was made as the bank “aligns to its customer base to make sure its products can get to market” with around 70% of Australian ag products are exported globally there is increased pressure for banks to introduce tangible sustainability initiatives. Westpac’s climate and rural engagement director Steve Hannan said the decision is in line with global and domestic trends and that the bank has no plans to de-bank customers.
Nationals’ leader David Littleproud urged the federal government to step in, calling the new rules “a senseless overreach” from the banks. Littleproud suggested the Labor government should use banking licenses to “pull the banks back into line.”