Boards, Chairs, and Revolving Doors – It’s Like a Corporate IKEA

07/02/2019

NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn and Chairman Ken Henry have both announced they have officially resigned from the company following the release of the Royal Commission report into the finance sector. Hayne’s final report, while it didn’t offer as much as some would have wanted, was a scathing review of the banking industry’s misconduct. But can resignation, undoubtedly accompanied by severance packages in the millions, with a plethora of opportunities for future endeavours, really be considered punishment? Apparently, yes.

One of the reasons corporate power has such a stranglehold on our government is the huge sums of money invested in lobbyists. Politicians are essentially bought to do the bidding of private interests even if it opposes the interests of the public. Evidence of this is abundant, from the fact we, in the form of tax cuts and evasion, and subsidies, give more money to commercial media than we do the ABC, how industries like banking and fossil fuel receive similar treatment, etc. Our politicians do as they are told, and when they are voted out or resign (whether amid controversy or on their terms) they receive lucrative offers as lobbyists themselves, or as board members for the companies. Thus the cycle continues, as there are stronger ties between former MPs and current ones, especially with party ties. The RC into finance only occurred with the direct permission of the banks themselves, and so the scope and length of it has been criticised as having a conflict of interest, i.e. written by the banks.

A prime example would be the former LNP Premier of NSW, Mike Baird. A massive friend to businesses like banks and casinos, there appears to be quite a high level of buyer’s remorse among the voting population since he was elected, and even more since Berejiklian took over. He stepped down due to ‘family’ troubles, explaining he felt bad for not spending enough time with them through private illnesses and matters. Often considered ‘miraculous’, not 6 months later was he announced to take a high paying role in none other than NAB. With Thorburn resigning, it has been pointed out by some that Baird could now land himself the top job if the temporary CEO steps aside and another candidate isn’t found.

Similar fates will befall the ‘fallen’ CEO and chair Thorburn and Henry. While they may not have a future at NAB, or in banking at all, the revolving door never stops. In all likelihood, they will end up on the boards of other companies, earning millions, or take high roles in an equally destructive private sector. What these corrupt men should be doing is marching into long prison sentences and paying back the damages and rip offs to their customers. A fine doesn’t cut it – the amount is but a fraction of the profits made and so is not a punishment but a sparkling success for their business practices.

The next time you see someone making a snarky comment about people on welfare and the like, there is an apt term I heard that you can use to counter it as it costs more than welfare ever could: ‘wealthfare’.

 

Liked this? Read Culture of Greed: Banking Royal Commission Report Released

Previous piece: Lenin and the Russian Revolution: A Reflection Pt.2

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