Category Archives: Banking Royal Commission
In his 2018 budget Scott Morrison announced a ban on cash transactions over $10,000, originally to come into force in July 2019, but now January 2020.
With this measure, Australia has joined what outspoken former Liberal Party economics advisor John Adams, who is forecasting an impending economic Armageddon, calls the “war on cash”—nations deliberately moving to a cashless society.
Going cashless is commonly promoted as an efficiency measure driven by technology, but it coincides with the global push for “bail-in”—the policy of averting bank failures by seizing the savings and investment funds of depositors and other classes of creditors.
Bail-in is one of a number of sinister developments in the international financial system, including negative interest rates, which drive people to keep their money in cash.
If it’s not in the bank, it can’t be bailed in.
And you can’t be charged for having it there, which is how negative interest rates work.
Morrison snuck a bail-in law through Parliament in February last year, the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Crisis Resolution Powers and Other Measures) Act 2018, with only a handful of MPs and Senators present when it passed and no recorded vote.
It authorises the “conversion or write-off”, a.k.a. bail-in, of so-called hybrid securities which are better known as bail-in bonds, which have been sold to hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting mum and dad investors and self-funded retirees. They are at risk of losing, collectively, more than $40 billion.
But the law included a massive loophole that the Citizens Electoral Council’s legal experts, as well as John Adams, Digital Finance Analytics Principal Martin North, and former APRA Principal Researcher Dr Wilson Sy, identified could be used to conduct a back door bail-in of deposits by stealth.
When Pauline Hanson’s One Nation senators notified the government they intended to close this loophole with an amendment that explicitly excluded deposits from any bail-in, the government and Labor Party opposition rushed the bill through the Senate when the One Nation senators weren’t present in the chamber.
Now, as the CEC revealed 4 March, the International Monetary Fund is saying that the 2018 law isn’t enough, and is demanding the government enact a full statutory bail-in regime that explicitly includes deposits. Moreover, the IMF is demanding that the government scrap all democratic safeguards over the bank regulator APRA, by which the Treasurer can give APRA directions and the Parliament can disallow an APRA policy. The IMF wants these safeguards scrapped, so that in the event that APRA orders a bail in of bank deposits in a future crisis, the government will not be able to block the order to protect the public.
This bail-in policy is guaranteed to destroy the public’s confidence that their banks will keep their money safe, and will drive people to take their money out and hoard it in physical cash or other forms.
So what are we seeing around the world coinciding with the rollout of a global bail-in regime? A massive and draconian crackdown on the freedom to use cash.
This is most obvious across the European Union, where the EU bail-in system called the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) came into force in January 2016.
According to a 25 February 2019 post by John Adams on his website entitled “The New Global Push for Negative Nominal Interest Rates”:
- France has legally prohibited cash transactions above €1,000;
- Spain has legally prohibited cash transactions above €2,500;
- Italy has legally prohibited cash transactions above €3,000;
- the European Central Bank ended the production and issuance of its €500 note at the end of 2018.
Also, the government of India eliminated 86 per cent of all physical cash throughout the Indian economy in 2016 by banning popular denominations of the currency. This created a political uproar in India, and fuelled suspicion of India’s bail-in law which was introduced the following year, the same time as Australia’s. The backlash was so great that the Indian government was forced to withdraw its bail-in law—the first time that has happened.
Sweden is 95 per cent cashless, and Vietnam has a plan to become 90 per cent cashless by 2020.
Another common justification for the war on cash is the need to crack down on the black economy, which is the Morrison government’s excuse. But this isn’t genuine. There are adequate measures in place to track cash-based criminality, which CBA and other banks have ignored, and the same Morrison government shamelessly protects those banks from real scrutiny and real consequences.
The fact remains that limits on cash trap people in banks where they can’t escape bail-in.
Join the CEC’s fight to defeat bail-in and force Parliament to pass the Separation of Banks bill that Senator Pauline Hanson introduced on 12 February, for a Glass-Steagall separation of banking from speculation, which will fully protect deposits from financial dangers and bail-in, and restore confidence in the banking system.
What you can do—fight for the Separation of Banks bill to stop bail-in
- Make a submission to the current Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiry in support of the Separation of Banks bill. The submissions deadline is 12 April, but do it straight away. Click here for instructions on making a submission.
- Call the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee to demand they hold public hearings on the Separation of Banks bill, so that the inquiry is transparent and they can get a proper understanding of the need for bank separation from real experts who are not beholden to the banks.
Chairman: Senator Jane Hume – Liberal
(03) 9428 1773
Deputy chairman: Senator Chris Ketter – ALP
(07) 3881 3710
The Senate Economics Legislation Committee on 14 February initiated an inquiry into the Banking System Reform (Separation of Banks) Bill 2019.
This landmark senate inquiry was ignored by big media which preferred sensationalising the dust-up between One Nation’s James Ashby and its former senator Brian Burston in the halls of the senate.
from Citizens Electoral Council
This is a major blow for the banks, which had assumed that the Hayne Report from the banking royal commission, which did not recommended structural separation, would be the final word on the issue—bank shares soared on the news they wouldn’t be broken up. They celebrated too early, however.
On 12 February, a week after Hayne’s report became public, Senator Pauline Hanson introduced into the Senate the same bill that Bob Katter had introduced into the House of Representatives in June 2018. This bill was carefully drafted by the Citizens Electoral Council based on the USA’s successful Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and the updated “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act” bill currently before Congress, adapted for Australia’s financial system.
The bill separates traditional commercial banks that take deposits and make loans from all other financial activities. This solves the problems of both vertical integration—the gross conflict of interests involving banks advising their customers to buy products from other businesses the banks also own; and horizontal integration—banks mixing commercial banking with risky investment banking that puts customer deposits, and the whole economy, in danger. The bill also brings the failed bank regulator APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) under much tighter parliamentary control.
Bank separation has the support of most cross-bench politicians in Parliament, including the Greens, Centre Alliance, One Nation and independents. It is also supported by key backbenchers in all of the major parties. The Labor Party had said they would support it if recommended by the royal commission; however, sticking with that position is untenable. They know that Commissioner Hayne’s terms of reference forbade the investigation of “structure”, which Labor had intended a royal commission would have looked at. Also, even Labor’s senior statesman Paul Keating has strongly criticised Hayne for not recommending structural separation.
(Hayne’s recommendation against structural separation is a scandal: that section in his report includes a blatant lie, and experts familiar with public inquiries have accused Treasury of a “dirty trick” to rig the outcome in favour of the banks.)
The opposition to separation comes from the big banks, the discredited regulators which are captured by the banks, and the leadership of the major parties who take huge donations from the banks. The banks wish to keep the parasitical structure that has enabled them to amass huge profits, not only through gouging their customers but also through gambling with their deposits, which they use to underwrite their huge derivatives bets that collectively amount to more than $40 trillion. There is a revolving door between the banks and regulators: high-powered executives from banks take key positions in the regulators, such as ex-UBS chief John Fraser taking over as Treasury Secretary in 2013-18 and former senior investment bankers holding six of the nine positions on the executive of bank regulator APRA; and regulators retire to plum banking positions, such as former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry becoming chairman of NAB and former RBA governor Glenn Stevens joining the board of Macquarie Bank. And not only do the big banks donate to the major parties, but so does the Australian Banking Association which lobbies for them, as do the Big Four global accounting firms which audit the major banks and have a track record of covering up dodgy bookkeeping by banks all over the world.
Make a submission
This inquiry is the chance for the Australian public to force the debate on banking separation that the royal commission was not allowed to have. The Senate Economics Legislation Committee is taking submissions from the public, so every concerned Australian should make a submission.
Here are some points to note about the Glass-Steagall principle of full banking separation:
- It works, as proved by its success for almost 70 years (1933-99) in America;
- It ends the conflicts of interests of vertical integration, which is the only way to ensure the misconduct exposed by the royal commission can’t happen again;
- It protects deposits from the dangers of speculation, which boosts confidence in the banking system;
- It stops banks from diverting credit into unproductive financial speculation, thus making more credit available for lending to neglected sectors such as small business, industry and farming.
The submissions deadline is 12 April, but don’t delay—make your submission today!
How to make a submission
Written submissions can be delivered to the Committee in two ways: 1) by physical post; 2) online.
- Post your written submission to: Senate Standing Committees on Economics
PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6277 3540
Fax: +61 2 6277 5719
Hon Bob Katter MP
KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy
will respond via Facebook video to the release of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry report, as the first politician who called for a Commission back in May 2015.
3:30pm (Qld time)
TODAY (Monday, 4 February 2019)
Staff will upload live video to Bob Katter’s Facebook page re his response to the report’s release and findings.
Please note, Mr Katter is unable to travel from his home in Charters Towers today due to extensive flooding in Townsville and throughout the Kennedy Electorate and the closure of the Townsville airport (hence the Facebook video).
Timeline of the Banking Royal Commission and how it originated:
- End 2012 – Rural Debt Summit – Bob pressures the then Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan after a question in Parliament to act on spiralling rural debt. Bob pushes to form the Rural Debt Roundtable Working Group.
- 7 May 2013 – Bob organises rural crisis meeting in Richmond, Central Queensland. Bob forms Gulf Cattleman’s Association to steer the meeting and actions going forward. Federal Member Barnaby Joyce as Shadow Agriculture Minister and (then) Chief of Staff, Matt Canavan attend. Former Senator the Hon Joseph Ludwig (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) also attends. Focus on the crisis meeting is on debt, drought and live cattle exports. After the meeting is called, but prior to being held, on 27 April 2013 Swan and Ludwig announce concessional loans (in Queensland, administered by QRAA) – package worth $420m Australia- wide.
- 30 June/1 July 2013 – Indonesian Ambassador tours the Gulf with Bob. The next day, the Indonesian Ambassador flies to Jakarta to brief the President ahead of Prime Minister Rudd’s visit. Live cattle quota numbers are restored following Rudd’s visit.
- 28 Feb 2014 – Bob and Rural Debt Roundtable Working Group Chair meet with Australian Banking Association (CEO and bank executive members) in Sydney regarding rural debt and the Private Members Bill for a Rural Reconstruction Board.
- 5 December 2014 – Winton ‘Last Stand’ meeting called by Robbie Katter (Queensland State Member for Traeger and Bob’s son) where Federal Member Barnaby Joyce attends as now Minster for Agriculture and Water Resources. Radio and TV commentator Alan Jones is a special guest. From this, David Pascoe compiles a Facebook story about Charlie Phillott and the ANZ Bank , which goes viral. Following this meeting, Minister Joyce gives another $100 million in concessional loans and the ANZ puts a moratorium on foreclosing on any new drought-affected farmers for a year. Bob says he will name and shame banks behaving badly in the media and Parliament.
- May 2015 – After battling ANZ and other bank cases, Bob calls for a Royal Commission into the banks.
- 12 July 2015 – 60 Minutes airs story on Charlie Phillott and ANZ Bank.
- 30 August 2015 – Mike Smith’s (CEO of ANZ) apology to Charlie Phillott airs on 60 Minutes.
- 19 October 2015 – Queensland State Member for Traegar Robbie Katter is appointed Chairman of the Queensland Government’s Rural Debt and Drought Taskforce. The final report, released in in April 2016, made 14 recommendations including establishing a Rural and Industries Development Bank, a Farm Debt Reconstruction Authority, and a commercial Multi-Peril Insurance (income protection) product for all primary industries.
- 26 May 2016 – Queensland State Member for Traeger Robbie Katter introduces the Rural and Regional Adjustment (Development Assistance) Amendment Bill.
- 10 October 2016 – Bob introduces Banking Commission of Inquiry Bill 2016, as per election promise.
Federal Member of Parliament George Christensen comes out publicly saying he will support a bill by Bob.
- 27 March 2017 – New Bill introduced by Bob which has input from other MPs – People of Australia’s Commission of Inquiry (Banking and Financial Services) Bill 2017.
- November 2017 – Then Prime Minister Turnbull announces he will call a Royal Commission after the big banks give him the go-ahead.
- 25 June 2018 – Bob moves the Banking System Reform (Separation of Banks) Bill – legislation for Glass- Steagall separation of commercial banks from all other financial activities.
- 27 June 2018 – Bob attends the Banking Royal Commission public hearings and asks a question of the Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC. Mr Katter interrupts proceedings to ask the Commissioner whether the banks’ failures will be properly fixed. The Commissioner concedes that public hearings into agribusiness lending will have to be extended.
- 4 October 2018 – Bob directly asks then Treasurer and now Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Parliament if he could assure the House that the Royal Commission would include the “carrion” – the receivers – and address the issue of a Reconstruction Bank. The Banking Royal Commission a priority in the 45th Parliament for Bob Katter.
from Channel 9
A woman who was yesterday involved in a five-hour siege at a Perth property has died in hospital.
Officers were called to a home on Douglas Road in Martin, in the city’s south-east, about 9am yesterday following reports a couple in a home made threats after the sheriff’s office came knocking to repossess their home.
Police fired a single non-lethal shot as the siege came to an end at about 2.30pm.
The home is owned by Rodney and Janice Croft, who were arrested by police.
Soon after, Mrs Croft was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital in cardiac arrest and in a critical condition. Her husband remains under police guard in hospital.
It’s not clear when she suffered the cardiac arrest or if she was hit by the non-lethal police round.
Mr Croft was the former Deputy Mayor of Gosnells but in recent years the couple had battled long running and costly legal troubles.
It is understood they owed close to a million dollars.
No charges have yet been laid. (Against the police? Ed)
by Senator Fraser Anning
Since becoming a Qld Senator last year, I have assigned a staffer to listen to the stories of people who have been victims of questionable lending practices of Banks.
I wanted to assist these people by helping them find ways to receive justice. At the same time, I have been trying to get the Banking Royal Commission extended so they can deal with all the problems
in the banking system.
I have been motivated by the experiences of several close friends who have been victimised by banks and who have unjustly lost their assets and their livelihood.
The Government has resisted calls to extend the Royal commission, but less than 30 cases (from the 10,000 submissions to the RC) have been looked at. This means that so far, only the tip of the iceberg has been exposed.
During my investigation into this subject, I have been staggered by the depth of deceit and manipulation that I have heard from Bank victims involving the clever and deceptive actions of banks, lawyers, receivers, liquidators and other bank agents. The public has been kept completely in the dark by a media which is indifferent at best.
My staff have looked at more than 80 cases in detail. Many of these unfortunate people had successful businesses, farms, pubs, and houses worth millions of dollars. Within a short time, their assets were sold, and they were bankrupted.
The bankruptcies appear to have been a tactic to make sure they did not have any means to fight back.
Some victims have suicided, but many, many more have been so depressed and distraught they cannot even bear to hope for justice. My staff know of several who could not even write a submission to the Royal commission due to the pain of remembering the details.
There are three points I want to make for Australians to consider:
1) It is vital we elect people in parliament who will not be corrupted by party politics or personal payoffs. Unfortunately, few will buck the system and stand on the side of justice.
Instead, they allow themselves to be controlled by the party. I don`t believe the dominating party system was the intention of our nation’s founding fathers, and …….it is destroying our democracy and preventing justice from being done.
2) If you are a bank victim, I suggest you join in with the hundreds of others who are getting mobilised to find ways to get justice. Please contact my office to learn how to get in touch with the appropriate people.
3) Many Bank victims (and one of my staff) have been attending Bank AGMs to inform shareholders and the banks boards about the human consequences of bank actions.
These actions have financially and emotionally destroyed some customers. I encourage people to use BANK AGM`s as ways to shine a light on the corrupt behaviour of banks (and their agents), so they will be pressured from inside as well as from outside their organisations.
I wish all Australians well and I encourage them to say hello whenever I visit their area.
There were explosive scenes at the banking royal commission on November 27, during its final days as an audience member accused it of “concealing fraud”.
ASIC a toothless tiger when it comes to the Commonwealth Bank
The banking royal commission was hijacked this afternoon by an outburst from an angry audience member who accused it of fraud.
The man interrupted senior counsel assisting the commission Rowena Orr QC, who was questioning Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) chair James Shipton.
Royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC repeatedly asked the man to stand down without success, and appeared to be thoroughly unimpressed during the tirade.
The man, who had been seated in the public gallery, ranted against alleged corruption within the banking and financial services industries.
Although his words were difficult to hear over the commission’s webcast, he was clearly heard accusing the commission of being “corrupt” and “concealing fraud”.
“Why are you concealing the greatest fraud in this country which is variable interest rate loans?” he said.
Security eventually escorted the individual from the courtroom.
In typical Rowena “Shock and Orr” style, the QC continued on completely unfazed, immediately firing off her next question.
Earlier today, Mr Shipton admitted ASIC should take criminal action against the bigger financial institutions more often, and said the organisation had failed to act against the Commonwealth Bank’s mishandling of consumer credit insurance and National Australia Bank’s home loan fraud.
“Today these matters would be handled very differently,” Mr Shipton said.
“I used the word mistake deliberately because mistake, in effect, constitutes a misguided decision.”
He said ASIC had only just started to take action against CBA in October — more than two years after the bank owned up to the insurance mis-selling.
Mr Shipton, who has been in the top job since February this year, said ASIC had focused on fixing the problem with customers instead of taking action against the bank.
“In some cases I clearly am of the view that we should have tried to and work towards running both remediation program and the enforcement investigation at the same time, in parallel,” he said.
But Mr Shipton insisted ASIC would be pursuing more legal action in the future when faced with banking misconduct.
“I want to make it crystal clear we will be undertaking more court-based actions,” he said.
“We will be more adventurous, as it were, in pushing points of law.
“We will be taking more — let’s call it risks, because we now have, through my direct engagement with the government, more funding to do exactly that.”
The commission also heard CommBank was concerned about being seen as “paying off” ASIC after the bank was let off the hook with a $300,000 community donation — which the regulator agreed with — instead of a fine over misleading CommInsure ads which were found to have breached the law.
“It was a mistake not to act quicker, swifter and earlier,” Mr Shipton said in response.
Ms Orr’s trademark, dogged questioning was on show yet again today, as she repeatedly insisted Mr Shipton answer her questions thoroughly during a number of tense exchanges with the witness.
The inquiry has ended without the Commissioner calling for extra time to examine more than the 27 distressed farmers it heard, out of more than 10,000 submissions it received.
by Gil Hanrahan
West Australian senator in exile Rodney Culleton has called on the senate President Richard Pye to call him and former senator Jacqui Lambie to appear before the senate by issuing a writ of Habeas Corpus.
Culleton has been dogged by state and federal government-initiated law suites since being forced out of the senate. When sitting in the senate he pushed for a Royal Commission into corrupt behaviour of banks and for the High Court to reinstate Queen Elizabeth 2 to legal process.
With the help of federal MP Bob Katter, he was successful with the Banking Royal Commission. In part, he got the Queen restored but he pointed out the HCA actually reinstated the fictitious Queen of Australia, which he says is not a lawful entity.
The maverick former farmer has been stymied by government in every legal move he has made to get himself reinstated to the senate.
On the evidence, there is no doubt government has called in judicial favours to knock out his appeals on every occasion, in all levels of courts.
Culleton has also called on the senate to include all other sacked senators, removed as a result of an order from the HCA sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns sought by the Turnbull Government which he says was in breach of the Commonwealth Constitution.
He has asked the senate to debate Motion 163 of 2016, which was lawfully enacted on December 1, 2016 and warned that s147.1 of the Criminal Code Act of 1995 could be invoked for failing to list the motion for further debate.
“Motion 163 of 2016 was a requirement passed by the House announcing that the referral of November 7, 2016 is faulty and that there needs to be further investigation into that faulty action, which was never passed by any procedure of law, orchestrated by former Senators Parry and Brandis,” Mr Culleton said.
“Brandis’ motion to the House in constitutionally forming a meeting by way of a Quorum on November 7, 2016 as defined in s 22 Constitution was a failure of the tellers who counted the ‘Ayes’ and ‘Noes’ who should have noticed insufficient senators were present to take a vote.”
It is of interest that former inept senator George Brandis was whisked away to London to fill the position of Australian High Commissioner, a reward from Turnbull, the Australian Bankers Association representative in government.
Former senate President Stephen parry, a former Tasmanian police officer, has disappeared from the face of the earth after allegations of his involvement in a massive cover-up concerning the framing of alleged Port Arthur shooter, Martin Bryant, caught up to him while sitting as President.
Senator Fraser Anning, Katters Australian Party is pushing to have the Bank Inquiry extended to give farmers dispossessed by avaricious banks a fair go
Its just Two weeks until 14th August – “Extend The Banking Royal Commission Event” by Senator Fraser Anning
Parliament House Canberra 9.30 am start.
(Please forward this to your friends, supporters and other bank victims / survivors)
Hi Readers, The news is that
- Several speakers at the event have been giving their stories to the Media. You might read them this coming week. (Tristan Chapman, David Gilham are in the SMH, Tanya Hargraves on ABC TV (see her summarised story below)
- Michael Sanderson 0421176997 firstname.lastname@example.org and Craig Caulfield email@example.com can assist you finding rooms to share with others to make accommodation cheaper ($50 / night) if you contact them soon.
- Many people from WA & Qld are making the trip.
- If you cannot attend the event but want to, please email me asap so we can list the apologies on the screen prior to it starting.
- There are at least three people who want to get to Canberra but are strapped for the funds.
- If anyone can assist someone with making the trip to Canberra, please notify me 0435423636 so I can put you in touch with them.
1) How to assist the event and make it a success
- This event may be the last really good chance to influence the Royal commission to do it`s job properly
- As well as encouraging as many Victims/ survivors to attend, please encourage family & friends to attend in support
- The room can hold 300 plus standing room around the edge of the room.
- As well as attending the event, Please start making appointments to meet your local member and your state senators in Canberra on 13th, 14th or 15th Aug to inform them you want the royal commission extended. Their office numbers are on the web.
- Ask/arm twist etc your Local member / senators to hear the event from 9.30 am to 11 am on Tuesday 14th Aug in Parliament house in the main committee room
- Put messages on face book, twitter, web sites, talk to media to attend the event. The schedule for the “Extend the Banking Royal Commission Event” is • Tues Aug 14th 8.30 am – 9.15 am suggesting those attending should arrive at Parliament House and go to Main Committee room on level 1• 9.30 am Senator Fraser Anning welcomes guests etc• 10:35 – 11:05 am Media asks the speakers and Fraser questions about why the royal commission should be extended• Suggest all visitors go to lunch 11:30 am – 12.30 pm
- • 11: 20 am room begins emptying
- • 9:35 – 10.35 am interviews conducted to a sharp timetable ( each speakers story will be edited down to a number of dot points to go on the screen so audience can read that while each speaker is interviewed)
- (Speakers will need to assemble inside the main Marble entrance at 9 am and be escorted to the Committee room – so they don’t get lost)
- • Mon Aug 13th 6 pm at Forrest hotel (30 National Circuit) rehearsal for the Event the next day (speakers need to attend this)
Other events that visitors could attend in the Senate in the afternoon might include
- 2.30 pm? – Reintroduction of the motion to Extend the Royal Commission by Senator Fraser Anning in Senate
- 5 pm – Senator Anning`s Maiden Speech?
- After Speech party at 6 pm (free drinks and food)
- Paul Herman wants to get a team to visit several Ministers and Senators
He is looking for people affected by
- Predatory Lending,
- Loan Application Fraud,
- who have been unable to meet mortgage payments,
- who have lost their home,
- or been bankrupted or liquidated.
He wants to coordinate meetings and have a number of people with him
To join him, contact Paul Herman 0408 332 057
We (organisers) believe the success of the event will rely on a combined effort – Here are some ways others will evaluate the effort
All the Best
Advisor to Senator Fraser Anning
Suicide watch for hundreds of ailing farmers
27 June 2018: KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter is not giving up on his steadfast campaign to get decent banking services and a fairer financial system for all Australians, especially rural communities. Mr Katter came out swinging in Parliament today and used Question Time to ask the Treasurer about the scope of the Royal Commission.
Mr Katter’s question follows his attendance at the farm finance hearings in Brisbane yesterday to support Aussie farmers whose lives have been profoundly impacted by unethical banking practices. Mr Katter left the hearing feeling deeply frustrated that the Royal Commission isn’t going far enough and might end up being a ‘toothless pussycat’ because the watered down terms of reference set by the Government mean a solid outcome is highly unlikely.
Yesterday, Mr Katter politely asked Commissioner Kenneth Hayne:
Are we going to address why these things happened and what we can do about it to improve it in the future? Is the commission going to address those issues? at
And today, Mr Katter followed up the fight by asking the Treasurer:
In Australia where only two entities buy and sell food.
In a world where 41% of farm income is from Government the removal of collective bargaining and all tariff/subsidy yarded Australian farmers for butchering by the banks. Can you assure the house that the Royal Commission will include the ‘carrion’ – the receivers and ‘address’ the issue of a Reconstruction Bank, enabling farmers to ride the roller coaster of supply and demand?
It won’t remove the truncating by taxes of the ‘ups’ but it will at least stop the banks from “elongating the downs” with a continuous imposition of discretionary punitive charges.
Yesterday, Mr Katter stood beside a group of aggrieved and enraged farmers at a press conference outside the Commission and he will continue to advocate for these hardworking people.
“Most of the mob around me has been fighting for this for five or six years. And the fact that the banks were able to set up the Royal Commission, and not we the people, it is frustrating for us. We are seeing all the pain and horror filtered through the forensic process.
“The hide of this business, we are averaging one suicide every two weeks – and no one cared about us, no one did anything about it – and it continues today with one farmer doing away with himself every five or six days in Australia.
“Of course the banks will just go back to where they were before. They are under commercial pressures to compete against each other.
“These are people (the farmers) that have been on the land for generations and generations – they are not out for a big quid – they have fought a thousand elements and survived – but they can’t survive with the cards that have been dealt to them. We hope this Commission gives us the leverage we need to get a restoration of the Reconstruction Banks – to keep the other banks honest.
“We are now playing rugby league without a referee and the people of Australia are disgusted.”
Shortly after the press conference, Mr Hayne announced that the scheduled hearings on natural disaster insurance would be delayed to allow more time to examine farming finance.
For more information or a comment from Bob Katter please contact the media phone: 0418 840 243
Further background information
The Treasurer responded by stating:
I thank the member for his question and his passionate interest in these topics. Can I assure him that the terms of reference would catch liquidators, to the extent that they were operating on behalf of a financial services entity—for example, a receiver—as defined in the letters patent. The constitution has an insolvency head of power which would likely enable the commission to use its coercive powers to obtain evidence from liquidators. In looking at the conduct of liquidators, the commission may also seek to investigate other appointments, such as forensic investigators, accountants or valuers, which are often part of the receivership process, as the member would be aware. Referring to registered liquidators or receivers would single them out from the wide category of services—for example, accounts and orders that are similarly captured—and it may be inferred by some that other similar services are not included.
Rural debt was around $71.6 billion as at 30 June of 2017, and 96 per cent of that debt is held by the banks. Our agricultural sector exports are some $51.6 billion. Seventy per cent of Australian farm business is in grain, beef and sheep. It’s also important to note, as the member would also be keenly aware, that these farm businesses typically have a turnover of less than $10 million.
What the royal commission has been tasked to do is look at all of these matters I’ve referred to. I’m not going to prejudge—I’m sure the member wouldn’t expect me to—the findings and recommendations of the royal commission. He’s unconstrained in that matter and in relation to the specific issues he’s raised and the proposals that he’s put forward here. I understand he’s ventilated at the commission itself. He will have the opportunity to respond to that and make such recommendations to the government as are appropriate.
The Treasurer’s response indicates that the Royal Commission terms of reference will look at receivers but this seems to be at odds with what the counsel assisting Rowena Orr told the Commission on Monday 25th June:
The conduct of receivers does not fall within the terms of reference of this Royal Commission, because receivers do not fall within any of the categories within the definition of a financial services entity. Most relevantly, for present purposes, a receiver cannot be considered to be a person or entity that acts or holds itself out as acting as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders. This is because, while receivers are appointed by a bank, they are generally stipulated to be an agent of the borrower and they are separate to a separate and distinct regulatory regime under chapter 5 of the Corporations Act. As such, the conduct of receivers is not within our terms of reference and will not be examined in these hearings.
The federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter on June 25 introduced a private member’s bill into the Australian Parliament to protect the economy and bank customers from dangerous financial speculation and predatory banking.
The Banking System Reform (Separation of Banks) Bill 2018 is based on the USA’s successful Glass-Steagall Act. It will separate Australia’s commercial banks, which hold deposits, from risky investment banking, as well as other financial services that Australia’s banks have acquired in recent decades, including insurance, superannuation, wealth management, and stock broking.
The ongoing Financial Services Royal Commission, which Bob Katter led the political fight to establish, has laid bare the predatory banking practices that the bill will end. The revelations from the royal commission have been so dramatic that it has attracted global attention, and kindled fear in the City of London that Australia’s inquiry could lead to a renewed push to break up Britain’s too-big-to-fail banks.
Katter excoriated Australian banking in a passionate speech introducing his bill. “The situation in Australia is ugly and it is evil”, he said, “and this legislation is needed to overcome those problems and what effectively it says is—‘Mr Banks you are no longer out there in the market, in the arena buying and selling. Your job is to loan to people that buy and sell, develop and invest. You don’t do that, you judge them.’”
Aside from the conflicts of interests in banking, Katter’s chief concern in moving Glass-Steagall is for the looming financial crisis arising from the banks’ speculation in real estate and derivatives. He identified the reckless speculation threatening the financial system today was also the cause of the 1929 crash, which led to the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933.
“What we’re talking about here is derivatives: when you don’t buy a loaf of bread; you buy a contract to buy a loaf of bread”, he said. “That is what we call a derivative.
“Glass-Steagall came in and it overcame the vast bulk of those problems so that the American economy ran fairly effectively, making it three, four, five times the size of any other economy on earth, until Mr Bill Clinton, ‘Mr Free Markets’ himself. … In 1999, he abolished the Glass-Steagall Act. Within two years, the dot-com collapse occurred, taking down trillions of dollars of savings, superannuation and retirement moneys of Americans and the rest of the world, and in 2008, as we’re all familiar with, came the GFC.
“Clearly, that timeline indicates the necessity for Glass-Steagall legislation in this place.”
The most immediate danger for Australia, Katter emphasised, is from the bubble in the real estate market.
“The housing boom in Australia today—does anyone seriously think that we are not sitting on the brink of disaster?” he warned. “A quarter of Australia’s population, maybe a third, live in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. The average price of a house is over $800,000. That means that 50 per cent of the houses are over that value. Yet the average income for an Australian after tax is about 50 grand a year [$50,000]. So how are they going to make the repayments on a house? And yet they’re buying houses. The banks are financing them. The banks make money when you go broke and they sell the house out from under you. They don’t lose money; they make money out of what has occurred. They should be held responsible.
“I would love to be in a business that is guaranteed by the government”, he continued. “If I buy a corner store and I know that, if I go broke, the government’s going to give me the money, everyone will be buying corner stores in Australia. They are given this, but there is no responsibility placed upon their shoulders to act in a prudential manner.”
Katter singled out the team of people responsible for organising the bill, including Robert Barwick, Dr Wilson Sy, and Bob Butler. Sy is the former principal researcher at bank regulator APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority). Barwick and Butler are representatives of the Citizens Electoral Council, which has led a nine-year campaign to get Glass-Steagall legislation enacted in Australia.
It is significant that on the same day as Bob Katter introduced his bill, Australia’s biggest bank CBA announced it was demerging from its wealth management businesses, as if to send the message that Glass-Steagall legislation is unnecessary because the banks are doing it voluntarily. On closer examination, however, CBA is not completely demerging from other services, and along with the other big banks it is continuing to speculate in dangerous derivatives and other forms of financial gambling. Only a strict Glass-Steagall law will end these practices, which is the intention of the Katter bill.
As a private member’s bill, Katter’s Separation of Banks Bill 2018 will only be debated if a majority of members of parliament agree to do so, which will require the support of one or the other major party. Ordinarily, the governing Liberal Party would be expected to protect the banks, but many Liberal politicians are shocked by the revelations of the royal commission and are concerned about a financial crash. And what about the Labor Party—will it block or delay Glass-Steagall the way it blocked the banking royal commission for six years, or return to its roots as champions of working people against the Money Power? It will be up to the Australian people to demand the major parties stop protecting the banks, and allow a debate and vote on Glass-Steagall.