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Howard's End: Taking Control Of Our Wealth

Either modern-day Kiwi's are as thick as two short planks or they've lost their institutional memory. Remember the State Advances Corporation fixed mortgages which gave a whole heap of New Zealanders a hand-up? John Howard writes.

It wasn't so long ago, about 25 years, that New Zealand had a Government organisation where people could apply for home mortgages on terms and conditions which were fixed. I recall a fixed 3% interest for 25 years was not uncommon.

It was called the State Advances Corporation and I can tell you it was a Godsend to thousands of young New Zealand families as they started on life's journey. It was also good for the economy.

Why was it stopped? - I have no idea, but it was a big mistake and I'm satisfied that it helped breed this young "me first" bunch of commentators.

But you're just an old wrinkly, what would you know, I hear you say.

Well, we don't have kids and yet I pay my taxes for your kids to go to school. Should I be greedy and write a column and ask why I should be paying taxes for something I'm personally receiving no benefit from? No, I bloody-well shouldn't because, unlike some commentators, I see myself as belonging to a community of people called New Zealand.

And, furthermore, not everyone is created equal and haven't had the same advantages as I have. So I'll keep paying taxes for your kids to be educated and be glad to do it.

All some media commentators seem to want to do today, is pull down and destroy and agitate the public mind without cause or justification - there's not a positive bone in their body, it seems to me.

Can you imagine NZ Post, the most successful SOE and arguably one of the most successful business models in New Zealand, not doing its research to prove whether "Jim's Bank" would work or that it would succeed in the market?

I've met NZ Post's Elmar Toime, only once, and he's no mug. But some of our politicians and media commentators are sure treating him and his team as if they were.

From what I hear, people are generally unhappy with the current banks and are looking for new options. It's nothing new. People around the world are feeling much the same way, hence new banks and new forms of banking alliances being created, the latest in Australia. And in the US, your mortgage is federally guaranteed up to $150,000.

Until now, New Zealand has been economically pure while the rest of the world turned their faces from us and just laughed at our "purity" - look where it's got us.

I understand NZ Post already sells its postal expertise to other countries and, if I'm right, it won't be long before it's selling its banking expertise to other countries as well.

After all, many NZ Post employees ran the old Post Office Savings Bank and they're still around within NZ Postshops and corporate head office. That's a wealth of experience to draw from.

It seems to me that the new bank might just give us back control of our own wealth. Edmund Burke said " If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed."

Dominion Bank, ANZAC Bank, Jim's Bank, - call it what you will, I'm putting my money up hoping that we can regain control of our wealth and a young Kiwi will get a fairer go.

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