First it was Reserve Bank Governor, Alan Bollard, urging the four big Australian-owned banks to play the game, be good chaps, don’t let the side down, and other similar clichés. So now we have the spectacle of the Minister of Finance, Bill English, faced with the politically embarrassing spectacle of those same four banks having piled up $4.5 billion in profits (recession? What recession?), begging them to please pay nice and scale back their flagrant profiteering.
That is likely to meet with the same response – who’s going to make us? It’s time for the Government to pull its finger out and say: “We are”.
NZ taxpayers are now the guarantors of the deposits of the banks. Yet we get no say in their running, let alone ownership. The Australian-owned banks go on their merry way piling up profits as if the crash has never happened, while at the same time turning off credit for their NZ customers, keeping interest rates high, refusing to reimburse mum and dad investors whom they have bilked, laying off staff in their hundreds and outsourcing their jobs to Third World cheap labour. It’s time for the Government to remind the foreign banks of that old saying most favoured by moneymen: “He who pays the piper calls the tune”, and to translate that into action.
The taxpayer needs to be directly represented on the boards of each one of these Aussie banks that we’re underwriting with our money. And, if that doesn’t do the trick, nationalise them. After all, we used to own the BNZ, before it was flogged off to NAB (and PostBank, which was flogged off to ANZ).
Stop begging and start laying down some rules. Less whinging from the sidelines, more big stick.