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A group of dissatisfied customers have joined forces to get their own back from the big banks, launching a new political party that will compete in the next federal election.
The new Bank Reform Party has grown out of a lobby group called 'UnhappyBanking' which boasts around 500 members - mostly former Bankwest customers who believe Bankwest foreclosed on them prematurely during the difficult 2009 period.
About the impact the new BRP might make, earlier in the week Rob Burgess at the Business Spectator wrote that it could be significant: "A single yodel in the wilderness can, given the right conditions, trigger an avalanche - and the same thing might be about to happen in federal politics."
Burgess suggests the conditions are right for a new political voice to change the electoral terrain substantially.
He also goes on to say there is "no mystery" in the timing of the BRP launch - which apparently is close to securing the 500 signatures it needs to be recognised by the Australian Electoral Commission.
"Mortgage-belt Australia is closely watching the four-pillar banks announce interest rate cuts smaller than the RBA's 50 basis-point cut last week, and ANZ has announced a record first-half profit of $3 billion," Burgess writes.
Also, that anti-bank sentiment is building like "deep drifts of snow on the edges of Mt Liberal, Mt Labor and on the lower slopes of the Green Ranges."
And, Burgess submits, it won't take much to send those votes tumbling in all directions.
There is a risk of course that a popular revolt against banks will damage the economy.
But BRP founder Adrian Bradley says the new party is not interested in simple bank bashing.
Bradley is much more than an enraged home-owner, says Burgess.
He's a former business and finance journalist who's worked for a long list of papers; and, having covered the difficult last years of Bob Hawke's prime-ministership, is no stranger to politics either.
Bradley also worked in corporate communications for HBOS during the "rushed and controversial takeover of Bankwest".
Accurately, Burgess points out that while Bradley is not the only person "running around collecting signatures" (to register the party with the AEC), he is clearly somebody who "knows the bank debate inside out".
So, if there is any bank bashing going around inside the party, "it won't be because of simple ignorance, as is so often the case."
Until the BRP is registered it has held back on formulating hard polices, but until then its "shopping-list" looks like this:
- Regulation to bring banks into line with RBA cash rate moves.
- Enforce new and tougher anti-predatory lending practices.
- Enforce greater transparency on fees and charges.
- Greater competition, more support for non-bank lenders.
- Dismantle the "apparatus of unfairness"; the unconscionable nexus between the banks and administrators, receivers and valuers.
- Examine a cap on excessive bank bonuses and executive salaries.
Big banks' billion dollar boost - By passing on only a fraction of any RBA rate cuts Australia's major banks would boost their combined profits by more than a billion dollars this year, one analyst has claimed.
RBA/ Big Four full rate dislocation on its way - Connective - In the fast developing rate price-setting clash of the heavyweights we might yet witness a total dislocation between the major banks and the RBA, Connective's Murray Lees has said.
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