Australian Citizens Party Citizens Taking Responsibility



Our fight is making politicians stand up and banks back down

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Lead Editorial

15 February 2023
Vol. 25 No. 7

Junee rally
The people of Junee rallying against CBA’s branch closure on 9 February. Four days later CBA announced a pause pending the outcome of the inquiry. Photo: Junee Shire

Breaking! This morning members of the new Senate inquiry into the closure of regional banks, including Chairman Matt Canavan and inquiry instigator Gerard Rennick, held a press conference in Parliament House calling out Westpac, ANZ and NAB for not yet following CBA’s lead and pausing their planned regional branch closures, as the committee requested last Friday (p. 5).

Later in Question Time, Member for Kennedy Bob Katter followed up with a question to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, demanding he comment on the closure of regional banks, and whether he supports the people of North Queensland having the services of a postal bank.

In response, Albanese revealed the very big news that just this morning, Treasurer Jim Chalmers had met with the consumer regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), to discuss regional bank closures.

The significance of these developments cannot be exaggerated—they are tectonic. This fight, that the Citizens Party has taken the lead on, has shown the people they have the right to fight, and, if they do, the power to win. In turn, the people’s fight, exemplified by the town of Junee, has variously inspired, shamed, or provoked politicians into doing something they never usually do—demand the banks change their management decisions. The modern politicians’ default position is not to question the banks’ commercial decisions, but the snowballing public revolt—reflected in perhaps the biggest explosion of media publicity on any issue the ACP has been involved in—has given them no choice.

From the banks’ side, they would be furious, because they have grown accustomed to not having to answer to Parliament. In fact, three to four decades of neoliberal politicians in both major parties have outsourced economic policy to the banks. They have literally left the shaping of the economic future of Australia to the short-term profit motives of the banks which determine their lending decisions. Hence why Australia’s entire economy is now focused on a housing bubble in the major cities—that’s the only sector in which the banks would lend!

The banks’ chief lobbyist, Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh, revealed how significant this issue is for the banks in an otherwise embarrassing interview on Sydney radio 2GB on 10 February. Justifying the wave of branch closures, Bligh said: “There is the single largest transformation of banking services ever in the history of our country happening right now.”

The transformation to which she is referring is the banks’ self-serving, coordinated decision to shift banking into an entirely digital domain which will give them more profit through a cut of every transaction, and more power through our data, their technological capability to approve and deny transactions, and being able to trap us inside the banking system.

Is this in the interest of Australians, of their customers? No, it’s entirely in the interest of the global banking cartel. Did the people ask the banks to launch this transformation? No, of course not, but Anna Bligh blamed them anyway: “Customers are in droves jumping into the online world to do all of their banking services”, she claimed.

Until now, the banks have got away with making such claims. Now they’ll be forced to prove it to a Senate inquiry motivated by public anger that, by definition, wouldn’t be there if Bligh was telling the truth.

Achieving this inquiry is a brilliant initial victory. We have to use it to seize economic power back from the banks for the people, by pushing politicians to continue to assert authority over the banks, and through restoring public banking institutions, such as a government postal bank. Stop Press: NAB has just issued a statement declaring its intention to continue branch closures. This arrogance will fuel calls for a post bank.

In this issue:

  • Senate establishes broad inquiry into regional bank closures
  • CBA announces suspension of regional branch closures
  • Senate committee calls on banks to halt closures
  • WA council supports ‘cease and desist’ call for bank closures
  • What it takes to get the Nationals to fight the banks
  • The win-win solution for Australia Post and unbanked communities is a government postal bank
  • Central bank independence is the problem—Rennick
  • The balloon goes up: China panic reaches new heights of stupidity
  • Hersh unmasks Anglo-American economic warfare, spark for WWIII
  • Drop Syria sanctions now!
  • Congress China-bashing committee to push war
  • Bank Inquiry opens the door for a post office bank!
  • The 2008 crisis and the European sinkhole
  • ALMANAC: The post-WWI cauldron of neoliberalism

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Postal Savings Bank
Page last updated on 16 February 2023