The Australian Alert Service is the weekly publication of the Australian Citizens Party.
It will keep you updated on strategic events both in Australia, and worldwide, as well as the organising activities of the Citizens Party.
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1 February 2023
Vol. 25 No. 5
Ahead of the Australian Parliament resuming on 6 February, the campaign to expose and address the regional banking crisis has had a break-out in the media. The timing couldn’t be better.
On 31 January Channel 9’s Today Show did a live cross to Junee, NSW, to interview the angry residents about CBA taking away their only bank. Flanked by affected townspeople, Junee Shire Council General Manager James Davis and Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory general manager Rhiannon Druce told Channel 9 that businesses and people in the growing local economy needed banking services, and that at the current rate of regional branch closures, there would be no regional banks left in 3-4 years.
Regional WIN-TV, AAP and Yahoo News also covered the story. They reported on the push for a moratorium on further branch closures and for a Senate inquiry to be established next week in Parliament. Importantly, the media covered the fact that this fight is recruiting other councils around Australia, naming Coober Pedy Council as an example, which is scheduled to lose its only bank on 13 February.
Pushing the issue of the regional banking crisis opens the discussion to the Citizens Party’s solutions, which are straightforward:
- A moratorium on further branch closures;
- The government must re-regulate the banks, including through minimum service obligations;
- The government must fulfill its responsibility to ensure the provision of essential services for all communities, which includes banking, in this case by re-establishing a government bank to operate through post offices (which would have many benefits, including real competition for the private banks, extra revenue for Australia Post and licensed post offices, guaranteed access to cash, and increased investment in local economies).
What these solutions do is put the onus back on government to fulfill its responsibility to invest in the delivery of infrastructure and services, to undo the damage caused by the neoliberal craze of the past four decades that neutered governments in favour of delivering public services and infrastructure through private corporate interests for private profit, which has resulted in inadequate infrastructure and contracting services.
Contrast this approach to Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ 28 January essay published in The Monthly, “Capitalism after the crisis”, which purports to be a treatise against neoliberalism, only to espouse a neoliberalism-lite.
Replete with platitudes, jargon and buzzwords, the Chalmers essay says nothing directly, because in fact it has nothing to say, in the terms it presents itself, that is, as charting a path away from neoliberalism (as the ACP is doing). Instead, he waffles, acknowledging the failure of the neoliberal mantra “more market, not less”, but the only real concrete alternative he presents is a commitment to public-private “co-investment”, which is code for the government propping up the private investments of super funds and banks, as in the Macquarie Bank-pioneered public-private partnership scam. While there’s nothing wrong with co-investment per se, such as a government development bank using it as a way to invest in a particular project, it is not the government’s role to deliver infrastructure and services in a way that allows private investors to profit from their delivery, but only to deliver the infrastructure and services in a way that serves the people. His government’s approach to public housing is an example of this mentality: instead of the government just building what is needed, it is only interested in subsidising the private sector to build public housing for profit, which means the public housing shortage will never be solved. The same mentality would oppose a government postal bank on the basis that it would undercut private bank profit.
The Chalmers essay shows the government has no clear idea as to how to revive Australia, whereas the ACP does. If the Senate establishes a regional banking inquiry next week, that can become the vehicle for educating and recruiting all Australians to the fight we must win. Call your Senators! (p. 3).
In this issue:
- Join the Junee fightback against banks withdrawing services
- Lying banks closing branches where there is highest demand—regional Australia
- Captured regulator ASIC decries democratic accountability—time for a clean-out!
- The great Australian mortgage bubble floats towards the abyss
- NZ unions demand National Investment Bank
- London, Washington, NATO escalate conflict with Russia
- Stop the banks’ war on towns!
- Collateral damage: how the housing bubble blew up global finance