It’s time for Julia to get medieval on the banks’ asses
There’s an old joke about what the difference is between a dead kangaroo on the road and a dead banker. There are skid marks in front of the kangaroo.
This week I am starting to wonder or not this is really a joke or the results from an experiment actually conducted.
If the last few days have brought any good news at all, they have at least confirmed Australians’ long-held suspicion that bankers are an evil clan of blood-sucking parasites with the social conscience of Genghis Khan.
Although of course I exaggerate – Genghis wasn’t that bad.
Let’s put it in some context.
This week’s massive rate slug by the Commonwealth Bank comes just after it announced a record profit of more than $6 billion last year.
And just to really ram it home, this profit was fuelled by a massive 41 per cent increase in income from on home loan interest, which surged $638 million to a whopping $2.21 billion.
Then – in the middle of Australia’s greatest cultural celebration no less, and at the same time as every patriotic punter is mourning the loss of the greatest horse since Phar Lap – the CBA announces that it will almost double the official rate rise and whack its customers with almost half a per cent more on their loan.
Indeed its unseemly rush to be the first bank to announce such a hike may even have been driven by the hope that if they did it on the same day of the Cup their greedy cash gouging might be buried by the racing coverage.
It is such an extreme, cruel and unnecessary move that it is almost as though CEO Ralph Norris has gone out of his way to become a pariah.
“Look everybody,” he seems to be saying. “I’m the baddest bad-ass in town.”
Now this sort of behaviour might be kind of sexy if you’re an African-American vampire hunter who knows ninja moves, but not when you’re an extravagantly-paid middle-aged New Zealand businessman.
And just to complete the picture, just last week this same bloke actually had the nerve to say that suggestions that the CBA would be the first bank to increase rates was all a media beat-up.
Last Tuesday he tried to discredit the media who suggested this, saying:
“That particular article, which I was quite forthright in saying that I had flagged interest rate increases and that I’d be the first bank to increase, I think this has got a bit out of hand and I think some of the media have to take responsibility for that – this has become a media feast.”
Well it’s sure as hell a feast now Sir Ralph, and the main course is your head on a plate.
The only good news about Sir Ralph’s comprehensive boning of his 11 million customers is that in true Shakespearean form his shameless greed might yet have some positive results.
One is that other banks now have the chance to win countless CBA customers merely by just passing on the Reserve Bank’s official rate increase. Any good Christian soul can only pray that there is a stampede of Commonwealth borrowers fleeing the bank in much the same way that tourists with chocolate in their pockets flee grizzly bears.
Another is that the bank might finally dump its offensively pretentious “dare to be different” ads, which make me want to vomit blood every time I see one on the television. If there is anything more deeply nauseating than an adman saying to you in your own lounge room “look how clever I am” I am yet to experience it.
But lastly and most importantly the Federal Government now has a loaded shotgun to blast these filthy trolls back under the bridge from whence they came. It is now clear that banks cannot be trusted to do the right thing, any more than a junkie pickpocket with a gambling problem can be trusted to mind your wallet.
Ralph Norris has given the Government every political, social and economic reason it needs to stop banks from gouging money out of their customers in the same pitiless way with which a psychopath pulls wings off flies.
Julia Gillard would have the support of the Greens, the independents and, thanks to Joe Hockey, the Coalition. It is both desirable and doable and it would finally give her the chance to show some guts, some strength and some principle.
She should show the banks what a real bad-ass looks like.
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