The banking watchdog has confirmed banks have no lawful grounds to discriminate against licenced firearm traders.
Nationals Senate Leader Bridget McKenzie questioned the banking regulator Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) through senate estimates following cases where banks have denied loans to licenced and law-abiding firearm businesses.
“There have been a number of discriminatory lending practices by the banks including the National Australia Bank attempting to shut down accounts of several within the firearms industry and the Bank of Queensland refusing to lend to homeowners who work in gun shops,” Senator McKenzie said.
“In its response to questions on notice, APRA confirmed it was unaware of federal or state legislation or regulation that would prevent lending to licenced firearm traders.”
Senator McKenzie said there were an estimated 400 small businesses associated with the firearms industry, translating to more than 19,000 jobs – many in rural and regional Australia. The industry itself contributes more than a billion dollars to Australia’s economy.
“These are lawful Aussie businesses which are heavily regulated and are an essential service in the supply for firearms across a range of sectors including farmers and for professional pest control,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Furthermore, while acknowledging the internal policies of banks, APRA confirmed it does not believe lending to licenced firearm businesses poses a systemic risk to financial services in Australia.
“The banks are on notice; there are no grounds for this type of ill-informed blatant discrimination. Their job is to back jobs and small business.”
“Shooting is a significant and legitimate industry and our farmers, sporting shooters, recreational hunters and other legitimate firearms users and traders expect a level playing field,” Senator McKenzie said.