Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 August 2012



3:51 pm

Photo of Lee RhiannonLee Rhiannon (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—

  (a)   notes that:

      (i)    Westpac ' s environmental credentials have assisted it to promote the bank ' s business,

      (ii)    Westpac was the first Australian bank to adopt the Equator Principles, agreeing not to fund projects that endanger communities or the environment, and is a signatory to the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative,

      (iii)    the Solomon Islands is listed as having the highest percentage loss of rainforest in the Pacific,

      (iv)    logging in the Solomon Islands is unsustainable and has led to significant pressure on the natural environment, friction within local communities, threats to food security and breaches of human rights, including the sexual exploitation of women and children,

      (v)    recent investigations show Westpac has provided loans to companies in the Solomon Islands which have been involved in illegal tree - felling, hiring of illegal workers and alleged non - payment of compensation for illegal logging,

      (vii)    Westpac claims it has reduced lending to the forestry industry to 9 per cent of its loan book in the Solomon Islands and is taking on no new business in the Solomon Islands, yet it has recently gone guarantor for a new project to log pristine rainforest on Vella Lavella,

      (viii)    the Australian Greens have written to the Banksia Environmental Foundation asking it to consider withdrawing past awards to Westpac because of this involvement, and

      (ix)    Westpac has refused to investigate the loans it has made to those involved in illegal logging or to withdraw immediately from financing logging operations in the Solomon Islands; and

  (b)    calls on the Government to:

      (i)   approach the Banksia Environmental Foundation, which administers the Prime Minister's Environmentalist of the Year awards with Government funding, to ask the foundation to review and consider withdrawing Westpac's past awards,

     (ii)   initiate talks with Westpac seeking a commitment to immediately end links with forestry in the Solomon Islands and contribute to forest restoration, and

     (iii)   conduct an investigation into the collapse of the forestry industry due to illegal practices which will impact on the whole Solomon Islands' economy and bring hardship to local people, if Westpac does not in the short-term withdraw from financing logging operations.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by Senator Rhiannon be agreed to.