Westpac Carmichael announcement a boost for customers

5 May 2017

A new survey shows that for every Australian that disapproves of Westpac’s policy change that rules out finance for the Carmichael coal mine, three others approve.

It also turns out that ruling out Carmichael finance could gain Westpac more customers than they are at risk of losing, making the decision a potential net boost to their customer base.

Essential Research polled 1,211 people and found that even though most Australians would be unmoved in terms of where they would bank after Westpac’s announcement, 18% would be more likely to do business with the bank, compared to 12% who were put off the decision.

The results even held up in regional Queensland, as Queensland Senator Matt Canavan prepares to divest to the non-fossil fuel lender Bank of Queensland (go figure).

Polling results

Question: Westpac last week announced a new policy which places restrictions on lending to new coal power stations and mines. This had the effect of ruling out the bank’s involvement in the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland. Do you approve of this decision?

Total approve
Neither approve or disapprove
Don't know
Total disapprove

Question: Does Westpac’s decision make you more or less likely to want to do your banking with Westpac?

No change
More likely
Less likely
Don't know

Previous surveys of bank customers have found that investing in environmentally damaging projects would be a turn off, as customers expect their banks to uphold a high degree of respect and consideration for the environment.

These new results suggest that taking positive action to avoid environmentally harmful projects could also win favour among current and prospective customers.

Market Forces Executive Director Julien Vincent said of the results:

“It turns out that Westpac’s decision to rule out funding the Adani Carmichael mine is not just favoured by Australians, but a potential boost for their customer base,” said Market Forces Executive Director Julien Vincent.

“These results were also taken after the government began its boycott campaign of the bank.”

“The government’s increasingly shrill attacks on anyone who takes the sensible decision to stay out of Adani’s environmental and financial disaster demonstrate just how far out of touch it is with the public and business community.”

Westpac is now the 19th bank to either distance itself publicly from Galilee Basin coal export projects, or introduce policies that prohibit financing the Carmichael mine.

“Sensible investors are steering clear of the Adani project, not only due to the environmental impacts, but also because the economics of a highly leveraged company selling low quality coal into a declining market simply don’t stack up. It’s no surprise the only finance currently on the table comes from the public purse wielded by a government with an ideological fixation on coal,” said Vincent.

“This latest poll should serve as another wake up call not just to politicians, but also to other companies such as QBE and Commonwealth Bank who are working with Adani.”

To view the full polling report, click here.