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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17 May 2023
Vol. 25 No. 20
Last week’s victory, forcing Westpac to back down and keep open bank branches it had slated for closure, is a win in a minor scrap of a much bigger war to reimpose control by elected government over the banks. But it is a marker of a major shock about to hit the banks that will resound across the nation. Bankers are psychologically ill prepared to be forced to take the public good into account; but all of a sudden they are up against a broadside at every turn.
Today’s hearing of the Senate regional banking inquiry in Cloncurry, Queensland, builds upon the successful Sale, Victoria hearing which put Westpac in the hot seat. Westpac’s response pulled the fig leaf off all the banks’ planned closures, by demonstrating that these branches can be kept open with the tick of a box—providing the perfect ammunition for the Senate committee. ACP Research Director Robert Barwick, who is attending the Cloncurry hearing, reported that the mood is jubilant over the success of the inquiry so far, with a renewed determination to hold the banks to account.
If we seize this opportunity, the days of banks being unaccountable will soon be over. The RBA Review, which just demanded full central bank exemption from government oversight, was riding the wave of an old era, when banks could demand complete autonomy to forge ahead with nation-crushing policies.
Signs that that era is over are everywhere.
The NSW Premier has announced another step towards relegating neoliberal economic theory to the dustbin of history. Premier Chris Minns is introducing legislation to protect Sydney Water—and more—from privatisation. The legislation will amend the NSW Constitution to ensure stateowned corporations cannot be sold. He told the AFR on 7 May: “We’ve seen what 12 years of privatisation of our electricity network, ports and toll roads has done—it’s led to people having to pay higher prices to pay for services they used to own. This ends this week. Under Labor there will be no more privatisation of our essential assets.”
The scandal surrounding consultancy firm PwC is gaining real traction in this environment. That private consultants can advise the making of Australian policy in such way that big corporations can skirt it, is a travesty. PwC has confirmed that its executives engaged in the “unauthorised sharing of confidential tax policy information”, advising corporations on how to get around a 2016 “crackdown” on multinational tax avoidance. While Australian Tax Office (ATO) whistle blower Richard Boyle faces life behind bars, these financial doyens have gotten away scot-free, until now.
The same travesty is happening in defence, where—surprise, surprise—the US military is writing our policy! ABC recently revealed that retired senior American military officers landed lucrative contracts with the Defence Department, with one retired admiral paid $7,560 per day! This comes as the Defence Strategic Review demands that all government departments be subordinated to our “National Defence” which requires “whole of government” powers to “harness all elements of national power to protect Australia’s strategic interests”. As former Australian diplomat and Defence official Dennis Argall incisively put it, such an approach “belongs in a country practising for fascism, [for] the submergence of the civil power and civil society”. (“Defence Review enslaves Australia to the US war machine”, AAS, 10 May)
The building attention to the treatment of Julian Assange, who blew the whistle on the war agenda driving these moves, is another sign of the shift. A potential breakthrough is in the offing with upcoming rallies and events coinciding with the visit of US President Biden, or his secretary of state. Last night Assange’s father John Shipton did his first ever interview on Australian mainstream TV, on ABC’s 7:30; Julian’s wife Stella Assange will address the National Press Club on Monday 22 May. Join the Sydney rallies on Saturday 20th and Wednesday 24th if you can!
In this issue:
- Westpac a no-show after public humiliation at first senate hearing into bank closures
- Outsourcing of government made PwC scandal inevitable
- Foreign influence operations protected by Home Affairs
- Even EU economic forum rejects EU’s cashless society
- New trade arrangements marshal new financial architecture
- Already a successful Inquiry!
- Credit Suisse collapse put banking secrecy at risk
- ALMANAC - The Industrial Finance Department: An Australian experiment in small business finance—Part III