Changes to Reserve Bank and Banking Acts

Proposed changes to the acts noted in the heading are astounding in their breadth and likely impact. They also represent a massive lost opportunity. The sort of opportunity we might take if we had a Labor Government working in the public interest as a Curtin / Chifley government had once done. Men like this ran a Labor Party that protected the public against financial overreach. Today, Labor sees its responsibilities quite differently.

Contact Your Local Member

After reading my submission, I hope you will take action and contact your local member. If you live in the Blue Mountains, your local representative is Susan Templeman.
Phone: (02) 4573 8222

What follows is my submission to Susan Templeman, expressing my opposition to changes to the Reserve Bank Act (1959) and the Banking Act (1959). These are the result of a Reserve Bank review. You can find the original document here.

My Submission:

22nd November 2023

ATTENTION: Federal Member for Macquarie, Ms Susan Templeman
I am writing to express my unequivocal opposition to Recommendation 1 and its sub-clauses recorded in the document titled:
RBA Review – An RBA Fit for the Future (see p17).

My reasons follow:

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Know Your Customer

If we had truth in advertising, the central character in a bank advertisement would be a big dumb oaf with dementia.

On Monday I went to one of our fabulous banks. My purpose was to transfer ALL money from one account to another and close the empty account. It wasn’t my account. Before you call the police, I was doing this on behalf of my mother who had given me the right to act on her behalf.

The Odyssey begins

Visit One: Seems I don’t have the required authority to perform this task. I need to return with the owner of the account.

Visit 2: After waiting 45 minutes, we find my mother hasn’t brought enough information to prove who she is. This is despite being a customer of the bank for 60 years and having dealt with this branch for 30. We were battling with a new set of Federal Government rules called, ironically, “Know Your Customer”.

Visit 3: We returned with enough information to construct a family history going back to the middle ages. An abrasive member of staff with a sound knowledge of the rules explained that we had failed again. The photo-id that we brought, following the previous day’s bank advice, was invalid. Helpfully, she said go to the NSW Services office upstairs and get a photo-id. With rage mounting, I headed upstairs.

…this branch and many others no longer accept cash

Services New South Wales employee

Services NSW: Brilliant service, I put my hand out for the ID to be told by staff it will be mailed in 5 to 10 days. I also heard them say that this branch and many others no longer accept cash. A government office that does NOT accept cash? Is that legal?

Visit 4: Now desperate, we returned to the bank and asked to see someone less skilled in obeying rules and with some training in customer service. Seems this is a high level skill in a modern day bank so we were introduced to Jason, the Manager. After reviewing our case, Jason was distraught. Through sobs, he explained there was nothing he could do until we came back with proof of who the person sitting in front of him was. The customer, who has had an account at this bank prior to Jason’s birth, needed to try harder to prove her identity.

I decided against confiding to him that few people of my mother’s era were married at birth.

Further, he explained that whatever proof we had must match EXACTLY the name on the bank account. So the birth certificate we carried was a problem because it carried my mother’s maiden name. I decided against confiding to him that few people of my mother’s era were married at birth. That name stipulation also meant the Services NSW id-card will be invalid because we errantly put a middle name on the one we had just ordered.

In short, we needed 100 identification points. No-one could show us the rule book or tell us how to score in this game

Head office helps

So I rang the bank’s head office to have the rules explained. Seems I needed just two easily forged pieces of paper. Confidently, I prepared for my next battle with the local bank.

Visit 5: Jason meets me near the bank entrance :
Bank Manager: Do you have everything?
Knowing I did, I showed him my homework.
Bank Manager: Do you have the pension card?
Me: You mean the one that scored no points yesterday?
Bank Manager: Yes, that one.
Me: No.
At this point I became irrationally angry. Jason took this opportunity to ask:
“Do you want my help or not?”
It appeared to be a prelude to what he saw as a justified and principled reason to end our relationship. I accepted yet another defeat and withdrew graciously.

Visit 6:
I returned ever hopeful and after a 15 minute wait Jason addressed our problem to everyone’s satisfaction.

The system works great but I am a failure

In summary, I don’t blame Jason. He is a decent fellow as needled by the rules as I was. He was helpful, we had a pleasant chat and left friends. Under the rules of neoliberalism the system is perfect and all failure is personal. I had failed 5 times. You meet the terms of the system regardless of how arduous and silly or you fail.

Which brings me to this wonderful interview conducted by C. J. Hopkins with Catherine Austin Fitts. It explains how trillions of US dollars disappeared down a Pentagon money shaft. This was achieved through an arcane relationship with the Reserve Bank system.

In the last two years, the largest negative gearing program in history provided the VERY BIG END OF TOWN with unlimited funds to capitalise on the destruction of small business that Covid-19 policies wrought in the US, Australia and much of the western world. Was it a plan?

The plan to get rid of legacy systems. This means online education, health, shopping and more predicted in April 2020. In short, the plan was to limit the impact of the biohazard from the economy. What is that? You and me. Whitney Webb explains all to Jimmy Dore.

Our Reserve Bank Governor, Phillip Lowe, promised borrowers as late as July last year that interest rates wouldn’t rise until 2024. The enormous sums that western governments were spending undoubtedly presaged inflation. I explained this to anyone who might want to listen. So it proved to be. Was Lowe’s promise a lie or a deception? What happened to concerns about the surplus.? Did he mean to entice and trap people into unpayable mortgages?

This will be passed off as a mistake by one man. The Pentagon theft is likely to be passed off similarly as a rogue act. People make mistakes but the system is perfect. Yet, these are big mistakes that have seen huge amounts of money transferred to God knows who.

The sale of Federal Government bonds is our national debt. I once tried to find out who we owed that debt to? It is not for us to know or for us to find out. “Know Your Customer” does not operate here.

Meanwhile, in modern day Australia an elderly pensioner seeking money for an essential service from her own account is treated as one half of Bonnie and Clyde. If you’re under 40 look up who they are on that Google thing.

All the best

This article can also be found on my Substack site

Warren Ross

John Howard the Agnostic

It was of particular interest to me that Scott Morrison called John Howard seeking advice on how to address the recent bushfire crisis.  Four days after ScottyFromMarketing’s celebrated visit to Cobargo, the ex-Prime Minister was called to refloat a ship with more holes than a cullendar.  I wondered what sort of advice he would give?  So I went looking for “Australia’s Greatest Ever Prime Minister’s” recent contributions to climate policy.   As a man of the people, I am sure that from hereon he won’t mind me calling him John. 

With time to reflect away from the savagery of Parliament, this man of principle and vision would surely be the Aussie Sherpa that our society needed.  It was then that I came across a twenty minute YouTube clip (see below). from August last year where John spoke to a Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie.  This was just a couple of months before the bushfires so we could expect a close parallel between what John told the miners and the advice he gave Scott. 

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I Don’t Like Debt Collectors

We're here for the money

Who does, you reply. 
Yet, as anthropologist David Graeber explains, most of us believe it is our moral responsibility to repay our debts.  We are even more fervently convinced that others should pay them. There is a strange, largely unexamined tension between these two positions and it is a tension we will be forced to reconcile in the near future.  As members of the second most indebted households in the world, Australians will have plenty of moral responsibility to address. We will also develop a growing intimacy with friendly collections agencies.

I don’t like debt collectors because they offend my social sensibilities. The person that comes to your house demanding money with menace has come to a strange place if you welcome their arrival.  If you don’t think there is veiled threat behind such a relationship, try not paying and see how it works out. Happily, with the arrival of the mobile phone, the notion of home and your personal space has taken on a much wider dimension. The debt collector can reach you anytime and anywhere. 

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Why Do We Hate the Unemployed?

“There aren’t many groups as pilloried as dole bludgers and welfare cheats so when the Turnbull Government announced a major crackdown in 2016 most Australians were happy to see it.  That move has relied heavily on automation to pursue suspected rorters.“

This was Leigh Sales’ gentle introduction to a story about Robodebt and the victimisation of people on unemployment benefits. The program introduced us to a couple of people who may have been treated harshly but there are always exceptions. This segment was unlikely to shake the standard pejorative view of the unemployed. The majority of these 400,000 Robodebt targets still have the bailiffs at the door.

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Jobs for the Heart, Head and Hand

David Rumbens Deloittes report on the future of work

Relax. Worried about a robot taking your job? Find something else to worry about.  They’re going to be our friends.  This is the advice contained in a recent report released by lead author David Rumbens of Deloitte Accesss Economics.  It’s the latest in the company’s “Building the Lucky Country” series. Surely, this is what you’ve been waiting for; a future mapped out by a leading financial organisation. I spent an exhilerating afternoon reading this page turner late last week and I can’t wait to share my findings.

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Let’s Turn the Tables

Are we still in surplus?

Prior to 450 BC, the life of the average Roman was governed by unwritten customary laws.  These laws were made and interpreted by a patrician (wealthy) class. Understandably, those who were without this knowledge, the plebeian class (commoners), figured themselves at a disadvantage when courts applied rules they didn’t know or understand.  Public outcry demanded that these rules be presented in a code that could be inspected. 

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Are They Quiet or Sneaky?

A quiet man in a chair reading checking his Telstra share price

Who are the Coalition’s quiet Australians?
Are they drawn to Scomo’s circle by the gentle lilt of his “I love Stralia”? Do celebrations like Barnaby Joyce’s on election night, “Sucked in you suckers”, send them into a meditative trance? You can see them in their slippers quietly shuffling out to pick up the morning paper. Perhaps, they get there early to “catch it on the full” and avoid the thud of a hurled Tele or Herald Sun disturbing their quiet neighbours. If they’re retired, it’s probably off to the library where a publicly funded Financial Review let’s them check up on their Telstra or Westpac shares. If they’re workers, it’s always the quiet carriage or SmoothFM just loud enough to conceal the hum of the car that they have worked so hard to pay off in stoic silence.

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Peter Meakin and Friends

A few months ago I came across a 2009 interview between the Chaser’s Julian Morrow and Peter Meakin. I wonder how many people outside of the media know who he is. Meakin is currently Executive Director of News and Current Affairs at Network Ten after filling similar roles at the Seven and Nine networks. To use a Chris Uhlmann term, Meakin has been a “player” in our politics for 45 years. He became the producer of “A Current Affair” in 1973 when Mike Willesee employed him directly to produce the show.

This was an interesting time. Business wanted action to ensure it received the respect it deserved. We needed a business led revolution and our corporate leaders were going to give us one. It was, in short, the start of neoliberalism in Australia.

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The Free Market Can Fix Our Climate Crisis

It is time to privatise our fire service

When the Red Cross stepped up this morning to address our climate crisis, I saw an opportunity. A wide range of services including unemployment concealment, homelessness, communications, large parts of education and general health, aged care, mental health and suicide prevention, transport, roads, debt collection and energy have all been given away (see outsourcing). They are no longer the Federal Government’s responsibility. If something goes wrong, it is someone else’s fault. These services have been given to private businesses, churches, charities, church-based charities and church-based businesses. Why? Because as we have seen, they do things better. They certainly pay their workers less and that has to be good. As we all know, there is a surplus to save.

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