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ANZ Shenanigans Reinforce Need For Inquiry Into Banks

The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) joins the growing chorus of those calling for an inquiry into the banks, particularly the Gang of Four big Australian-owned banks that completely dominate the sector (and do very nicely out of it in the process).

CAFCA has been calling for such an inquiry for some time (see the lead article in Foreign Control Watchdog 150, April 2019 (http://www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/50/01.html).

The current revelations about ANZ - criticism that it has defied Reserve Bank instructions to set aside enough spare money to see it through another financial crisis, and the sudden resignation of its CEO because of his questionable approach to expenses (with a very laissez faire "oversight" by the bank's NZ Board, headed by Sir John Key, the master of doing nothing when it involves the interests and profits of Big Business) - only reinforce the need for such an inquiry.

ANZ is well known to CAFCA. Twice (2009 & 2014) it won the Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand (the respective Judges' Reports are at http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/publications/Roger/Roger2009.pdf and http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/pdf/roger-award-2014.pdf).

But an inquiry needs to look at more than just one of the banks. It needs to look at all of them. Just like the recent Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into banks and insurance companies. It revealed a horrifying picture of systemic corporate malpractice right across the sector - involving the same banks that own the Gang of Four in NZ.

Funnily enough, the banks here see no need for an equivalent inquiry. The NZ Bankers' Association had a novel explanation for why - according to them - things are hunky dory on this side of the Tasman. Antony Buick-Constable, the acting CEO, said: "We think, importantly, it comes down to the smaller size of our country and the smaller size of our banks. We're more connected - we're talking to our customers on the sidelines of footy matches on a Saturday. We think this is an important difference from the Australian landscape. We are very connected to customers" ( Press, 20/9/18, "Banks' Size Crucial To Conduct", Hamish Rutherford).

Oh, really. Well, the current ANZ situation puts the lie to that.

But the Government is also resisting calls for an inquiry. Yet, when it was in Opposition, back in 2009, Labour was happy to take part in the Parliamentary Banking Inquiry, held by the then Opposition Parties in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

So, come on, Labour, you've done it once, when you were in Opposition. Do it again now that you're in Government, with all the resources of the State at your disposal. Don't worry about the inevitable cries that it will adversely affect "business confidence" or possibly even "threaten the New Zealand way of life". The Tory government in Aussie went ahead and had one without the sky falling (except, hopefully, onto the heads of those named - individually and corporately - as guilty). To coin a phrase much beloved by Rightwing politicians and their media mouthpieces in another context - if they've got nothing to hide, then they've got nothing to fear. Time for a New Zealand inquiry into the banks.


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