While International Day of Credit Unions, October 17, should be a time to celebrate a long and proud history their role here is stymied by out of date legislation, Labour’s Consumer Rights and Standards Spokesperson Carol Beaumont says.
The first credit union opened in 1844 and there are now 200 million members in 101 countries. In New Zealand 210,000 people belong to credit unions – financial co-operatives which return profits to their members rather than see them go offshore.
“Unfortunately these local credit unions are hindered in what they can do for their members by out of date legislation which limits their ability to expand.
“Despite a clear case being made by credit unions for legislative change the best the National Government can come up with is promises of a back bench MP putting a bill in the Member’s ballot.
“Government legislation should be prioritised. It would have cross party support.
“Labour believes that credit unions have an important role to play in consumer credit both by increasing consumer choice and as an alternative to predatory lenders like loan sharks and pay day lenders.
“We have committed to changes to the legal status of credit unions and enabling them to make business loans to their members. We will also look at any other unnecessary regulation of Credit Unions.
“Like the regulation of loan sharks it seems that action that would benefit consumers including vulnerable consumers is not a priority of this National Government.”