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Not The “People’s Bank” - Winston Peters Speech

13 September 2001

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Speech to Association of Credit Unions
(6.00pm Oceanside Restaurant, 1 Adams Avenue, Mt Maunganui)

The Jims’ Bank, The Political Bank, Not The “People’s Bank”

The PSIS advertisements on the television begs the question: why don’t you wait for this people’s bank?

But more than 70 years ago, as the advertisement says, we used to have a people’s bank—in fact we had several New Zealand owned banks, designed to meet the needs of New Zealanders—both in service and in profit sharing.

In May 1861, Directors of the New Zealand Insurance Company invited friends to a meeting in Auckland to discuss forming a New Zealand bank. That bank was opened just five months later. We New Zealanders owned it, and enjoyed all the profits for 128 years.

Over that time we saw several other trading banks, collective savings schemes and building societies begin business in New Zealand. Many are still here today--but most are no longer owned by New Zealanders.

The Government's announcement to appoint former Prime Minister Jim Bolger to head the People's Bank is astounding. For no other reason than the share audacity and irony of the decision.

Here we have the very same person who first sold the BNZ and gave a huge golden handshake to the new owners now jumping tracks to the left to run the new so-called people’s bank.

It appears things have come full circle and the results are plainly ridiculous. All the Labour party is doing is imitating the National party, who imitated them in the first place.

First; the last people's bank was part sold by the Labour government (33% on 6th June 1989), and then National under Jim Bolger sold the rest (15th October 1992), a decision supported by the then Labour party.

Second; back in 1990 Jim Bolger promised an inquiry into the BNZ and then did everything possible to shut down my demands for the National Government to hold one.

Thirdly; it was only New Zealand First that stopped the sale of New Zealand Post, TVNZ and other state assets, when in coalition between 1996 and August 1998.

The public must be bewildered by just how cheap New Zealand politics and politicians have become, and now know why National's Bill English was so vitriolic in his attacks on current New Zealand Post Chairman Ross Armstrong.

It all points to the twinning of the two old parties, where today the biggest problem with National and Labour is spotting the difference.

That is why we have rapidly lost faith in the future of the so-called ‘”People’s Bank”. It now seems that it should be called the Jims’ Bank.

Whilst we support the concept of a New Zealand-owned trading bank, we have serious concerns about the lack of financial projections. We have equally big concerns about the future of this bank should the national party and Act ever get into power again- they would once again sell it off at bargain basement prices.

We are worried by reports that defence personnel and beneficiaries will be forced to use the so-called people’s bank. We could see other new Zealand organisations suffer through this attack on freedom.

If people are forced to join this bank, then you have to wonder at the viability and management of the bank.

As far back as February we publicly said that we had concerns about the lack of information, accountability and consultation with regards to the people’s bank. And given that Mr Anderton would be well aware of New Zealand First's support in principle for the People's Bank it is somewhat surprising that we have not been approached once by the Alliance or given the opportunity to view in confidence the details of the Bank upon which our support is dependent.

For MMP to produce the truly representative Parliament that its supporters envisaged there is a need for the Coalition Government to consult other parties in the spirit of ongoing co-operation - not just when their support is needed.

We are deeply deeply worried by that state of affairs, and the fact that we are having to learn second hand, through the media what is going on in the planning of the bank.

But upon learning of Jim Bolger’s appointment to head the people’s bank I have to say our support for the concept has totally diminished. This was never meant to be a political bank, but that cynical decision means that is exactly what it is.

The importance of the New Zealand financial sector cannot be underestimated for New Zealand’s economic health. With the financial sector being out of New Zealand control we are subject to the whims of foreigners to the flow of capital.

We in New Zealand First are economic nationalists. We wish to see capital stay here in New Zealand and be controlled by New Zealanders.

That is why I am very pleased to be speaking to you today. Just like us you have a permanent interest in this country, just like us you want to see New Zealand’s interest maintained in New Zealanders’ hands.

That is why I am glad to speak today to the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions.

Like Ireland, and like the Scandinavian countries, New Zealand needs a policy that will once again return a significant measure of credit, capital and economic control of New Zealand back into the hands of New Zealanders.

Credit unions, co-operatives, trading banks and building societies will have a greater and greater say in the running of the economy in the future and that is another reason why we are determined to see a greater degree of New Zealand control.

I wish you well for a successful conference.


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