Calling for the scalps of bank chiefs is not enough

By Joe Montero

Reacting to the revelations that have come out of the Royal Commission into the finance industry, Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, has called for the senior executives and managers involved in corrupt behaviour to be jailed.

Many Australians share this settlement and this will keep on building, as more and more damning evidence is exposed.  So far, there is little indication that those culpable and the institutions they represent will be punished with no more than inadequate fines, in comparison with what they have accumulated.

Those who are guilty should be punished. This call for justice to be done and seen should not, however, be allowed to hide the fact that there is a much bigger problem than a few rotten apple.

Far more important, is recognition of and action to address the fact that the problem with the banks and organisations like the AMP, is so widespread and pervasive in everything they have been doing, that the ultimate problem is the banking and financial system itself.

Corrupt behaviour is inevitable, when the institutions in control of our money operate as a cartel, and so with virtual impunity.  When it can can use its power to impose the conditions most favourable to itself, we are not talking of a competitive market, but a private monopoly, which can circumvent market limitations and deny choice to those who deal with it.

When these same institutions can buy political favours, the chances of corrupt behaviour are even greater.

The executives and managers working within them have behaved in accord with what was expected from them.  This does not justify it. But it does point the finger at the major shareholders. Unless they are put under the spotlight and punished for proven wrongdoing, according to the standards of society, almost nothing is going to be done to change the situation.

Consequently, the first thing needed is an investigation in this direction, designed to come up with real solutions.

My own investigation into the banks and that of others, shows that the decisive portion of the shares in the big four are owned by the same entities, major American and British Banks, nominee companies, each other, and the AMP. The AMP’s biggest contributors in turn, are the banks.

This is only the start of the network. Together, they figure highly in just about every company operating in the country, shifting the Australian economy towards being itself a super cartel. They share directors, and top-level managers move from one to the other, within their network of connections.

Add to this that a huge number of businesses and individuals are tied to conditions imposed on them through the rising debt burden.

Few other countries are burdened with such an extent of monopoly power, and this the gravest challenge to the concept of a democratic society.

Such power makes it inevitable that the political system will also be compromised. We see this in the roller door system where former politicians and in ministers who held sensitive portfolios, routinely move through the roller door, into lucrative posts on the boards of the dame companies.

The inquiry into the banks and other financial institutions, shows that action to break the cartel through anti-monopoly law is needed. The monopoly influence on the political system must be tackled, by outlawing improper influence over the political system to gain advantage, and former politicians from moving into positions, where there is a possibility that this is a reward for services previously given, or come into  conflict with community expectations.

It is also high time Australia moved towards establishing a nation publicly owned bank, which would act as the benchmark for the whole industry, and align it with the interests of the nation, both economic and social.

The question is when is Australia going to get the political leadership to carry through these changes?

If we want change, it is up to us, as the broad community that makes up the Australian nation, to insist on it.



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