Opinion: Aussie banks' good cop, bad cop routine

Opinion 30/08/2018
Photo: File.

By Mitch Harris, Night Talk host.

OPINION: Another meaningless Business Confidence Survey has been released by ANZ Bank.

These surveys are used to beat up the Government. And they can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

But what are they? They are really two surveys. They ask business managers and owners what they think of their own company’s prospects and they ask them how they think the overall economy will perform. Most of the recipients say their own business is doing ok but the wider economy is going to hell in a handcart.

What would they especially know about the wider economy? Running a company is not the same as running an economy. What the survey is really telling us is that a sample of mainly National voters don’t like the Government.

Most of these so-called business leaders are just bureaucrats who have climbed the greasy pole in a large corporate.

ANZ plays the bad cop. With Sir John Key as its Chairperson it constantly releases these irrelevant surveys as some sort of economic canary in the coalmine, telling us that these exceptionally gifted businesspeople are warning us that the Government has got it all wrong.

Enter the good cop. Westpac CEO David McLean steps up as head of the new Business Advisory Council to try hose down some of the criticism of the Government generated by his colleagues at ANZ.

He wrote an opinion piece in the Herald, the most alarmist of the Government’s critics, telling us it’s not so bad and to settle down.

Now McLean is the Prime Minister’s mate and it is very hard to see Westpac losing its business as the Government’s banker to Kiwibank.

The Aussie banks' good cop-bad cop routine is playing with our politics and squeezing the lemon as hard as they can in New Zealand.

What we need is a banking enquiry like the Australian Banking enquiry.  The rorts, misbehaviour, illegalities and unethical business practises that have come out of that enquiry should be ringing alarm bells here.  Australian banks in New Zealand are branch offices that do as they are told. And they have been told to extract every last dollar they can.

We need to ignore ANZ’s interference in our domestic politics and the Government should disband the preposterous and unnecessary Business Advisory Council.

Get the banking enquiry underway and use the Government’s balance sheet to set Housing Corp up as a mortgage lender so Kiwibuild has a chance of success.  

The Aussie banks are walking all over us. Let’s squeeze them back.

Mitch Harris is host of RadioLIVE's Night Talk programme.