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The Uniting Church has secured victory in a long-running campaign to convince ANZ Bank to stop funding companies involved in the production of cluster munitions.
Bernard Keane on Crikey.com.au said ANZ was reported to have been a member of a large banking syndicate providing a revolving credit facility for Lockheed Martin, a manufacturer of the weapons. It was providing funding to aerospace/weapons manufacturer L3.
The Uniting Church, with support from Greenpeace, has been engaged in acampaign to force ANZ to not merely cease providing borrowing for the production of cluster munitions - a long-standing ANZ policy - but end its links with the weapons altogether.
Mark Zirnsak, director of the Justice and International Mission Unit of the Uniting Church Victoria and Tasmania, said cluster bombs posed a particular threat to civilians because they had a wide area of effect and because unexploded bomblets remained dangerous for decades.
Cluster munition weapons open in mid-air, scattering hundreds of smaller bomblets that create multiple explosions. They are aimed at military targets but when released in populated areas the bombs do not distinguish between military and civilian targets, resulting in the death and maiming of many.
Often the bomblets fail to detonate on impact and remain on the ground as live duds.
Crikey reported that ANZ had advised church campaigners of its decision to sever its links following a "Military Equipment Review".
The bank's new policy is that it "will not be involved with direct financing or contract bonding related to the sale or manufacturing of controversial weapons (specifically cluster munitions and anti-personnel land mines)" and "does not wish to be involved more broadly with customers that are involved in the production of components designed for specific use in these weapons."
Crikey reported that the Uniting Church was sufficiently pleased with ANZ's decision that it was calling off its campaign.
An international treaty banning cluster bombs came into effect on August 1. Australia is a signatory to the treaty but has yet to ratify it.