Feb 17, 2021

Heat on financial sector’s cold shoulder to coal

Heat on financial sector’s  cold shoulder to coal

The ‘corporate activism’ seeing financial institutions back away from sectors such as coal is set to come under scrutiny in a new Federal inquiry.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt has welcomed the Trade and Investment Growth Committee’s inquiry into the financial sector’s treatment of Australia’s export industries.

“I am pleased that the resources sector will be a key focus of this inquiry that looks into recent announcements by some banks and superannuation companies that they will withdraw investment support for the coal industry,” Mr Pitt said.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt.

“It is of great concern that me that a legitimate industry like coal mining, which makes a significant contribution to the national economy and employs thousands of Australians, is being held back by what can only be described as corporate activism.

“I’m not just talking about the big miners, but the ‘Mum and Dad’ small businesses who’ve told me they can’t access insurance or loans simply because they have some exposure to the coal industry.

“People like David Hartigan in Mackay whose company Field Engineers provides technical support to the mining sector is facing a 300 per cent increase in his insurance bill.”

Mr Pitt said he would encourage all resources companies with an interest in this issue make a submission to the inquiry, which is expected to begin hearings next month.

Coal industry here for long haul

“Last year alone, the coal industry provided around $5 billion in royalties to help governments fund the services and infrastructure Australians rely on,” Mr Pitt said.

“And despite what activists may say, it will continue to do so for many more years to come.

“There are currently over 70 proposals for new coal mines, or expansion of existing ones, that are at various stages of planning and development.

“The number of Australians employed in coal mining increased by 22 per cent in the three months to November to reach a nine-year high, and 264 thousand people are employed across the whole resources sector, up nearly 10 percent.

“The new projects currently being planned can add thousands more jobs to that number.

“It is only fair that banks, superannuation companies and other financial institutions that are withdrawing investment in sections of the resources sector, explain to all those women and men why their jobs are not worth supporting.”

Committee Chair George Christensen said the inquiry would be an opportunity to examine an issue which could have significant ramifications for the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and beyond.

“Exports from sectors such as agriculture, resources, and defence manufacturing generate billions of dollars for the Australian economy and attract a significant amount of investment,” he said.

“If there are changes in the financial services sector which impact on Australia’s exporting industries, particularly those in regional areas, the Parliament must take an interest.”

* More information about the inquiry, including the full terms of reference and details on how to lodge a submission, can be found HERE