Bring banks to account, say Greens

The Greens candidate for Shortland, Joan Lambert, today called on both the Labor and Liberal parties to come down hard on banks – whose hard hearted axing of services have left Hunter communities bleeding.

“The banks are out of control and the Hunter is among the worst hit areas in the state for bank closures. Some of the disenchantment many Australians feel with the major parties is because they have both allowed the banks to rip off their customers,” Ms Lambert said.

The Greens are pressuring both old parties to set minimum service standards for the banks and to introduce community service obligations that ensure the banks will have to conform with basic obligations, especially in servicing disadvantaged people, local towns, and the general community.

“The major banks have increased their fees by over 400% in seven years. They have sacked thousands of staff, closed dozens of local branches, made billions of dollars profit and reduced services to many disadvantaged people,” Ms Lambert said.

The Greens believe part of the explanation for the refusal of major parties to move against the banks when in government is the huge political donations made to them by the banks.

The Greens would place a cap on such donations.

“We all saw the role of the banks in the Cash-for-Comment talkback saga, and we have to ask exactly what they are getting for their political donations,” Ms Lambert said.

FACT SHEET FOLLOWS

FACT SHEET TO ACCOMPANY “Bring banks to account” media release, from Joan Lambert (Greens candidate for Shortland), Thursday 8 November 2001.Banks and The Hunter:� The NEWCASTLE REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE found that the Hunter Valley was the hardest hit NSW region for bank closures in the mid 1990s – Newcastle Herald 08 Nov 1997 � HUNTER COMMUNITIES have all been hit by major banking closures

� A 1998 Hunter Regional Chamber of Commerce survey found that that 32% of local businesses have been hit by bank closures in the region and 33% have experienced some difficulty in accessing normal transactions – [source: Newcastle Herald 20 Feb 1998]
� The Electoral Commission’s register of donations shows the major parties receive massive donations from the banks every year

� The Greens would introduce legislation to put an upper limit on donations from individuals and corporations to political parties.

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