Evidence given at NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Into Banking
ANZ Bank features prominently in unlawful foreclosures. The largest non-institutional shareholder in ANZ is Queen Elizabeth of England!
Biggest bank heist by the banks in the history of rural Australia
ABC Rural Feb 17, 2016
Farmers whose properties were foreclosed on by the ANZ bank since 2010 have made explosive claims about the devastation suffered by those who were accused of defaulting.
Two have given evidence at a parliamentary inquiry hearing, in Sydney, into the banking industry’s practice involving loans.
Rod Culleton, of Williams in Western Australia, and Margaret Menzel, Townsville, representing sugar cane farmers, gave evidence.
Mr Culleton was a cereal and sheep farmer until he lost the farm in 2013 and has been fighting the ANZ in the courts and in the media ever since.
He said ANZ had admitted to overcharging in fees incurred during the transition [from Landmark to ANZ] and “is giving a lot of that back”.
In answers to the committee, Mr Culleton said he, and others in positions of default to ANZ, were “held at gunpoint” after receivers were sent in.
“That’s reality,” Mr Culleton said.
“Ten [police] came to my place that day [the receivers came in 2013].
“At Bruce Dixon’s it was caught on TV. There were four police with their pistols on us and there were SWAT teams up in the bush, and we were held at gunpoint that day, quite horrific really.
“We went there to support Bruce Dixon,” Mr Culleton said.
He also claimed another defaulter with ANZ was “victimised that much by receivers and police … tipped 15 litres of petrol over his head and set himself on fire”.
According to Mr Culleton he was in a coma for six months.
During the hearing, Mr Culleton asked Brett Fallon of the Whitsunday region to stand to demonstrate his maimed and burnt hands, after his self-immolation.
He submitted the story of Mr Fallon to the inquiry, describing him as a Queensland cane and cattle farmer who had a Landmark loan of $3.5 million and ANZ demanded it be repaid in 2010.
“Over the next three years Brett Fallon sold assets and all the proceeds [$3.7 million] were paid to the ANZ.”
“Mr Fallon then attended the Ingham branch of the ANZ in May 2013 and was told his outstanding loan was $4 million, and his cattle and crops belonged to [someone else, name withheld].”
Mr Fallon claimed outside the hearing that a lot of people could not attend because they had taken their own lives.
He echoed calls for a Royal Commission into banking practice and the establishment of a nationalised Rural Development Bank, to give a break to farmers who had seen their land devalued.
ANZ’s takeover of Landmark’s loan book
When ANZ took over Landmark’s loan book in 2010, from the scandal-ridden Australian Wheat Board, Mr Culleton said he received a series of emails outlining the transition.
Reading from the emails he said, “‘Landmark and ANZ will be working together to keep you informed of any changes'”.
“‘You aren’t required to do anything, and until 2010 your accounts and cheque book will work the same way as they always have.
“‘If you have any questions please speak to your rural financial manager,'” Mr Culleton quoted from the email.
But he said there was no local manager in Bunbury and he could never speak to anyone on the phone to discuss the new ANZ bank terms.
Mr Culleton claimed he would have been able to repay the loan, but did not want to bank with ANZ.
“I never signed over to ANZ Bank,” he said.
“They created new bank accounts calling me a customer, and then they defaulted me on accounts that were foreign to my company and companies.”
He explained in submissions that he wanted to have the freedom to move loans, but felt he was prevented from doing so.
“I have the right to go elsewhere,” he said.
“We’re not on some conspiracy theory, we’re telling the truth,” Mr Culleton told the hearing.
ANZ and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are expected to give evidence in April, delaying a report which was due in March 2016.
A meeting of more than 300 cattle producers at Charters Towers has called on the federal government to create the Australian Reconstruction and Development Board and place a moratorium on bank foreclosures before the state’s cattle industry completely collapsed.
Called by the Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth, the crisis meeting followed on from a similar meeting held by the Member for Mt Isa, Robbie Katter at Winton last year.
Producers demanded the federal and state governments act immediately to introduce the ARDB, modelled on the Rural Reconstruction Board of 30 years ago which was designed to absorb the “toxic” trading bank interest debt that has engulfed primary industries and to issue low interest development funds for primary producers and small business.
More than 20 resolutions were passed unanimously by the gathering of desperate and often distraught cattle producers.
While an unprecedented 80 per cent of the state is reeling under a drought declaration, producers heard how social media and 60 Minutes superstar Charlie Phillott, 81, of Winton, beat the ANZ Bank and had his property returned with a substantial settlement.
Mr Phillott’s plight has been closely monitored by the 60 Minutes television show and scored an Australian record 3.5 million hits on Toowoomba veterinarian David Pascoe’s social media site.
He urged producers to stick together when fighting questionable behaviour by the banks.
He said he had never missed a repayment but when the bank restructured his loan he was unable to manage and was eventually put off his Winton property after the bank took it over.
“All of us here owe a great deal of gratitude to Bob Katter for he saw my position and stood by me for two years ,” Mr Phillott said.
Primary Industries Minister Bill Byrne when addressing the meeting started an uproar when he said the State Government would not be building more dams because there was “no business return” from farming.
Charters Towers cattleman Mick Pemble attacked the Minister asking why he could not build dams, and “…do what everybody else in this room does and borrow the bloody money!”
“If I could make it rain I would, but our resources are finite and we are working on what can be done in the circumstances,” Mr Byrne said.
“There are amendments before Parliament and our policy is that water is critical to agriculture but the government capacity to fund such a project is limited.
“If you build dams in the city or for mining you get capital back but for agriculture you do not get capital back.
He said federal money or private investment would be needed to build dams.
Meeting chairman Shane Knuth said he was aware of highly questionable behaviour by bank-appointed receivers that had caused a lot of grief to families through no fault of their own.
He said there were many hundreds of northern producers in financial difficulties and the local industry could collapse unless the bank debt issue was resolved.
“I know some of you want to speak, and I am aware that confidentiality agreements stop you from telling us about what the receivers have done to you, but everyone is behind you and we must stop the foreclosures,” Mr Knuth said.
Burdekin farmer Max Menzell asked the Minister why police were involved when foreclosures took place adding that they should not be used by the banks and receivers as debt collectors because foreclosures were a civil matter.
The Minister strongly defended the use of police stating categorically: “That is the law.”
Mr Knuth said more meetings and what actions should be taken would be called unless the government brought the banks into line and stopped foreclosures immediately.
Member for Kennedy Bob Katter, Charlie Phillott, Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth and Member for Mt Isa Robbie Katter.
Mr Phillott said the northern grazing industry and businesses owed Bob Katter a great deal of gratitude for giving producers a voice in dealing with banks and foreclosures.
Bob Katter addresses 300 desperate cattle producers and small businessmen at the Charters Towers Debt Summit. Resolutions passed called on the federal government to halt farm foreclosures immediately and enact the Australian Reconstruction and Development Board to absorb toxic bank debt or the northern industry could collapse.
Bob Katter, KAP Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth, Alan Jones and Robbie Katter tell the Liberal and National Parties they have had enough!
THE LAST STAND IN WINTON: WE WANT A RECONSTRUCTION BOARD
5 December 2014: KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter said today that the ‘The Last Stand in Winton’ – the Rural Debt Crisis Summit was unanimous in its determination to seek a reconstruction debt approach to farm debt.
Approximately 400 people including leading economists, politicians, Government Ministers and farmers from around Australia attended the Summit called by the State Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter.
Radio Presenter Alan Jones was the guest speaker who promised he would be delivering the message from the bush to the people in the cities and the politicians in Canberra and the capital cities. Mr Jones received a rousing standing ovation from the audience who he told to ‘put their shoulders square and fight’.
“Farm debt has exploded in 9 years from $31,000 million to over $64,000 million last year,” Mr Katter said.
“To reconstruct the bad end of that debt is achievable by Government and they need to move in immediately in a situation where the banks are foreclosing at a rate of 10 properties per week.
“Banks do not just foreclose, they’re using duress and even mis-representation to get people to agree to terms without putting them into receivership.”
Mr Katter said the meeting unanimously rejected the Government’s offer of more debt by way of concessional loans.
The meeting also called for a moratorium on all bank foreclosures until the drought ends.
Farmers spoke from the floor to give heart-breaking accounts of their farms being sold up after generations on the land.
A Winton Rural Crisis Committee will now be established to take forward the outcomes of the meeting.
The resolutions agreed to at the meeting are:
Drought and other natural disasters
1) That the current Drought Assistance approach is a failure and this approach is rejected outright as manifestly inadequate
2) That the meeting calls on the Council of Australian Governments to convene an inclusive working group (within a month) to develop a new approach to drought and other periods of natural disaster consistent with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture framework
3) That the new approach support stressed agricultural businesses by providing:
· Prompt direct funding assistanceSimple conditions of access
· Low interest loans
· Greater certainty as to the availability of assistance
· A form similar to the previous QRAA model, and
· Other features arising from subsequent industry deliberations
4) That governments increase the number of Rural Financial Counselling and other support services in the state of Qld and place them appropriately around the state.
5) That Australian farmer incomes and profitability be made central to government policies, including in a reworking of the inadequate Agriculture Green Paper
6) That the Senate Economics Legislation Committee proceed in its enquiry into the Reserve Bank of Australia Amendment (ARDB) Bill as a matter of urgency
7) That the Federal Government commit to the provision of finance to fund the reconstruction and development of Australian Industry with urgent attention to rural industries and infrastructure
8) That the State government provide affordable Risk Mitigation Insurance to give effective cover against natural disasters
9) That interest rates are excessive and incompatible with sustainable production, industry profitability and international competitiveness. The Federal Government to work towards reducing interest rates.
10) That the Australian dollar is un-competitively high and calls on the federal government and the Reserve Bank to put in place methods to compensate Australian industries and reduce the dollar.
11) That governments and banks immediately enact a moratorium on forced farm sales until effective action is taken on the resolutions above
12) That the meeting supports the Winton/Western Rural Crisis Committee in its efforts to advance these issues and relevant other issues subsequently raised with appropriate industry and government representatives and agencies