Friday, 11 December 2009

"It's the whole banking system which is bananas", say Bad Banks campaigners

Bad Banks media release 10 December 2009 Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has given a very public serve to Westpac for an email the bank sent to mortgage customers featuring a cartoon video about selling bananas to justify a hike in its mortgage rates. (See Westpac goes bananas -,,26462786-3122,00.html) "This is just another example of the silly tricks that the Big Four Australian-owned banks (ANZ National, BNZ, Westpac and ASB) are pulling to try and "win over" the public", says Vaughan Gunson, Bad Banks campaign spokesperson. In New Zealand, BNZ closed the doors of its branches and instructed staff to do community work for a day. And ASB Bank has been pushing an advertising campaign which tries to paint a picture of a "caring bank" that serves us. "ASB have made the ridiculous claim that they've been a "Kiwi bank since 1847", when in fact they're fully owned by Commonwealth Bank of Australia", says Gunson. "The banks are trying to "suck up" because they know there's a bad public mood against them, as a result of their interest gouging, fee charging, and tax dodging", says Gunson. "Many New Zealand homeowners are experiencing mortgage stress, thanks to the banks." "What the Aussie banks are worried about is that the public mood against them will put pressure on governments on both sides of the Tasman to put in place tough regulations that curb their power and rein in their profits", says Gunson. The Bad Banks campaign is doing its bit to keep the pressure on the banks. Tomorrow (Friday) at 12noon we're going to be outside ASB's Queen Street branch (cnr Wellesley St) with placards and a new leaflet exposing ASB. "Our aim is to promote a nationwide and popular debate on the banks and their role in the economy", says Gunson. "It goes way beyond a few bad banks, we think the whole banking system is bananas." "The financial implosion that almost brought down the global economy last year, and which is continuing to wreck havoc on the lives of grassroots people, shows that we need to urgently bring the banks under control", says Gunson. There is momentum building even amongst the global financial elite for more regulation and control to be imposed on the banks. (See Ex-Fed chief Paul Volcker's 'telling' words on derivatives industry - To contribute to the national debate that we must have in New Zealand about the banking system, Bad Banks offers these suggestions for transforming the power relationship between banks and the people: 1. Immediate government intervention to stop banks turfing "mum and dad" homeowners out of their homes because of a job loss or income cut. 2. The establishment of a government regulatory body to oversee the renegotiation of mortgages based on realistic market values and the ability of the homeowner to pay. 3. Turn Kiwibank into a proper "public service" bank offering first-home buyers a 3% interest state loan. 4. Zero-fee banking offered to people on modest incomes. Facilitated by expanding the role of Kiwibank and forced regulation of all banks operating in New Zealand. 5. Introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) that would net the banks and other financial speculators. A decisive step in shifting the tax burden off low and middle income people and onto the mega-rich. 6. All bank loans to big business over a fixed amount to be approved by a government regulatory body that acts to protect the environment and communities. Such a measure is essential to preventing powerful global banking interests from sabotaging the necessary emergency mobilisation against climate change. 7. A full public inquiry which looks at every aspect of banking operations in New Zealand, with public meetings held throughout the country, so that grassroots people can tell their stories. Contact: Vaughan Gunson Bad Banks media spokesperson (09)433 8897 021-0415 082

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