It is something that I intended to do for quite some time, but today I have officially closed my account with the Commonwealth Bank. I had been with them since primary school through the Dollarmite school banking program, and to me it was simply a place to store my money – I had no savings account, no wish to secure a loan or take up any other offer from them. My only association was just making transactions with my card. So given the revelations of the Royal Commission into the private banking sector, it was an easy choice to leave.
There are quite a lot of worthwhile banks that you can join without feeling guilty about being involved with the Big 4 (CBA, Westpac, ANZ, and NAB) or some other bank (like one a friend of mine brought up, Citibank – I had to inform him that that was not only an American bank, no Australian, but that it was the fourth largest investment bank over there – investment banks aren’t well known for a lack of corruption). My friend and I both ended up choosing ME Bank (Members Equity), but others like CUA (Credit Union Australia) are also good ones.
But it’s not the benefits of those banks that should lure you to them, but more the benefits of dropping ties to the other big banks in the wake of the Royal Commission. The banks being caught out for insane levels of corruption are currently in damage control mode, whipping out as many feel-good advertisements they can manage to stay relevant. Examples are Vice sponsoring an NAB ad (well dissected by everyone’s favourite Labor stooge here) despite NAB’s business practices being quite clearly against what they supposedly ‘stand for’, or Westpac throwing in transgender leave for employees. Stuff like this is shallow when you take a look at just about any article relating to the Royal Commission.
The report was handed over today by Commission Kenneth Haynes to Josh Frydenberg, the government’s Treasurer. The likelihood of anyone in the banking sector being punished appropriately for such actions as dodgy loans, charging account fees to deceased customers, etc. is quite low, and while the Treasurer has said some nice word about the RC, a Coalition government whose members voted up to over 20 times against it will be just as unlikely to implement any worthwhile changes based on the recommendations in the report. Tellingly, Haynes refused to shake Frydenberg’s hand, even for the media photo-op. Labor, on the other hand, has already stated that they intend to follow the recommendations to the letter – we will see, if they can win the election, how true that is.
Despite all the damning reporting that has taken place throughout the RC, it still all feels somewhat staged in a way. The banks conceded to having it go forward and the government obliged, and now as it comes to a close not much is being done or said. Before the report is officially released, the media and lobby groups for businesses and banks will have access to it, but the Financial Sector Union has been barred from this session.
The government and the banking sector give me no faith that anything substantial will be done after the report is released to the public, and so I refuse to stay associated, no matter how loosely, with organisations built atop the greed and corruption of the rich and to the detriment of the poor and vulnerable. I don’t judge those who do stay with these banks, but would urge them to reconsider and look for a more ethical place to manage your finances.
Liked this? Read I Boycotted Amazon; You Should Too
Previous piece: Disrespecting the PM