Over the weekend TOP volunteers began a guerilla campaign against New Zealand’s Australian-owned banks, stickering hundreds of ATMs in our main centres.
And why not? Currently New Zealand is their ATM. We are one of the most profitable banking markets in the world.
TOP is calling for a Royal Commission into New Zealand’s banking, finance, and insurance industries. The one in Australia earlier this year unearthed all sorts of dodgy dealings. New problems are still coming to light, as we have seen with the money laundering scandal that led to the axing of Westpac’s Chief Executive. Remember this is the parent company of our government’s bank!
The Australian Royal Commission found problems in all the parent companies of our big four banks, so what makes us think we are immune from being ripped off? There are plenty of reasons to worry. The big four Aussie banks suck $5b out of our pockets annually. That is $14m a day. Roughly that means 20-25 cents of every dollar you pay in interest on your credit card or mortgage is going straight into their pockets.
To make matters worse, our banks don’t pay GST. That’s right, charging for financial services was deemed too difficult back when GST was created. But times have changed. Some countries have Financial Activities Taxes that simulate a GST. We should look at this too.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, here is a quick list of the problems already unearthed here in NZ. There is enough smoke here to be reasonably certain there is fire:
- Hisco’s dodgy expenses and house sale
- ANZ’s wonky capital buffers
- BNZ’s anti money laundering breaches
- Selling shonky interest rate swaps to farmers
- Overcharging for fees
- Some of the highest insurance commissions in the world
- Overcharging for low equity mortgages
- Underpaying interest on savings accounts
- Kiwi retailers paying twice the paywave fees
- Selling unnecessary insurance products
Do I need to go on? It is time to lift the rock that is the Aussie banks, and see what crawls out. After all as John Key likes to say if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.
The cost of living is too damned high, and something needs to be done about it. Housing is the chief cause of that, and the banks aren’t innocent on that count either. The second biggest driver of the high cost of living is getting ripped off at the hands of our big cartels.
National likes to whinge about the cost of living under this Government but has done a grand total of stuff all about either of these issues. Meanwhile Labour tinkers at the edges, promising transformational change but not wanting to scare the horses. Well, these horses need scaring. Just like we can’t afford our business cartels, Kiwis can’t afford another three years of the red and blue cartel.
TOP is the only party prepared to make fundamental change.
Geoff Simmons is the leader of TOP