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Parliamentary inquiry into why banks are abandoning coal will reveal nothing

ANZ was the last of Australia's big four banks to announce it will stop financing thermal coal projects in Australia. The Australian coal industry will now need to head overseas if it wants to borrow funds for new projects, and many government MPs aren't happy.

The Agriculture Minister called for a boycott of ANZ. The Deputy Prime Minister said such "virtue signalling" would hurt farmers. Now the Treasurer has escalated the rhetoric, backing a parliamentary inquiry into the banks' decisions.

Inevitably, the inquiry will reveal the banks to be doing exactly what you'd expect of them: responding to market forces in order to minimise their exposure to risky investments. Despite the odds being tipped thoroughly in coal's favour by our lack of a carbon price, and despite a regulatory framework that discourages sustainable lending, the banks are avoiding coal for good reasons.

Pushing them back into coal would produce a less stable financial system, make banks less profitable and create a dangerous precedent. Politicians would be directing the flow of credit in the economy - something they have already attempted to do with their public criticism of the banks - setting a dangerous precedent.

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