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Pro-coal group gets parliamentary inquiry into "woke'' lending bans

Business

The mining sector has backed Queensland MP George Christensen’s pro-coal forces in the Coalition after it won the right to hold an inquiry into what the industry called “woke” policies in banking, superannuation and finance.

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It comes as the ESG (environmental, social, governance) movement continues to grow and impact financial markets. The pressure has meant major banks were refusing to fund the development of coal-fired power stations or thermal coal mines. Similar pressure has been applied to the insurance sector.

At the front of the dispute is the Adani coal mine in central Queensland and the activism against its development because of the impact on climate change. Activists have focussed on pressuring its lenders and insurers in a bid to stop its development.

But there have been claims that the impact has flowed through to smaller companies which have been unable to access insurance because of links to the coal mining sector.

‘The joint standing committee on trade and investment growth, chaired by Christensen, will investigate the potential impact on investment opportunities for Australian exporters by changes in practices by banks, insurers and superannuation funds,.

Christensen said exports from sectors such as agriculture, resources, and defence manufacturing generated billions of dollars for the Australian economy and attracted a significant amount of investment.

“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’, Christensen said.

Deputy chair and Labor MP Ged Kearney added that “the inquiry will consider the possible opportunities and challenges that could arise for Australian exporters from any changes in financial services sector practices”.

The Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said there were claims that regional businesses were having problems renewing insurance policies or loan refinancing or even rental agreements because of their association with the resources sector.

“This is an extremely serious situation for the resources sector and will lead to job losses and businesses closing down as no business can operate without access to adequate insurance and finance,”  Macfarlane said.

“As an example, the issue with public indemnity insurance is a problem because our members require all contractors and suppliers to have this cover or we cannot engage them to provide goods and services.

“It is becoming a massive issue, which is why the QRC is urging every Queensland business associated with mining and gas operations having problems with insurance or finance – whether it’s dealing with unreasonable premium increases or being refused cover or finance – to provide a submission to this inquiry before the closing date of March 31.”

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