Roger Report goes on the parliamentary record
I am currently mildly chuffed to discover that Sue Bradford put the Roger Award on the Parliamentary record on Wednesday night, in the debate on the Westpac Bank Bill.
In the prestigious Roger Awards for the worst transnational operating in New Zealand, the 2006 award went jointly to Westpac and the Bank of New Zealand. The judges' report and supporting documents make sobering reading. [strictly speaking it was the 2005 award]
I wrote the Roger Report, one of the supporting documents :)
One of the key reasons for the 'win' of the BNZ and Westpac in 2005 was the appalling way the banks treated their own employees. Sue covers this ground well.
I was especially pleased to see that Sue picked up on my point about the highly partisan nature of the so called 'economic commentary' offered freely to the media by the banks.
"Finally NZ Westpac customers of all political persuasions have to put up with the highly partisan and ideological comments of Westpac Chief Economist, Brendon O'Donovan. For all intents and purposes Mr O'Donovan acts as the economic cheerleader for the National Party and is a constant critic of the economic policies of Labour, the Greens or any other of the Government support parties. There was blatant politicking from Mr O'Donovan prior to the last election. To give one example, Mr O'Donovan attacked Labour and Green's student loan policies pre the election, and was subsequently forced to admit that some of the estimates that he was using to cost the scheme were extreme. "
I do not necessarily have a problem with the banks having their views, but I do see a problem when they attempt to portray the comments made by their 'economists' as non-partisan and "independent of any other bank interest" when they so obviously are not. They, and the media reporting their comments need to be more transparent when it comes to disclosing the bank's conflicts of interest. In the 1980s it was more common for journalists to ask academic economists to comment on economic issues - now we only ever seem to hear the whining of the banks when Alan Bollard increases the official cash rate. The banks are whining because they will be "selling" fewer mortgages.
Today ANZ National pleaded guility to 45 charges for breaching the Fair Trading Act, for failing to disclose the existence of hidden fees charged when customers made overseas currency transactions on their credit cards. The BNZ and Westpac are also facing similar charges, so hopefully ANZ National will not be the only bank to be fined in the region of $1.125 million and forced to repay their customers over $10 million in refunds.
As far as I know, this is the first time something that I wrote has indirectly ended up in Hansard. Of course there was the odd speech I wrote while a Parliamentary Researcher for Alliance MPs, but that shouldn't really count in the same way.
Unfortunately when I went to check the Hansard Advances I found the days on line only go up to the 28th of March - a mere one day short. I want to find out if the Roger Report was tabled in the house! Will be checking tomorrow!