The Bulletin: Did review into banks go far enough?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Banks under review escape serious sanctions despite spotlight, allegation of police brutality at Defence Expo, and Speaker slammed for rugby junket.

The banks have been under the spotlight after the release of a report from the Financial Markets Authority and Reserve Bank. 11 banks were looked at through the process, which found that the banks were highly sales focused, reports Stuff. That meant in practice that banks are often behaving in ways that work against customer interests – for example with sales incentives for staff. They’ve been given a year to phase that practice out. Interest have a good technical rundown on what was in and what was out of the review.

The review was called for after shocking revelations from Australia’s Royal Commission into banking. The big four banks, which between them have a bit over three quarters of the market locked in, are all Australian owned. And the Royal Commission has uncovered some serious dirt – a quick google leads to this piece from the Fraser Coast Chronicle, talking about the five worst revelations as of April. That includes selling people on the dole “worthless” insurance products, and knowingly charging a dead person fees for a decade. The NZ arms of those banks have always insisted they aren’t up to the same tricks, and the report has largely vindicated them as acting merely like banks do, rather than more sinister and outrageous behaviour.

But the NZ review has had some critics. Writing on Stuff, Susan Edmunds contrasted the rigorous and searching approach taken in Australia with the much more laid back approach here. One killer line: “There was no smoking gun found by this report because the FMA and Reserve Bank didn’t go looking for it.” And on the NZ Herald, Liam Dann writes that banks have “dodged a bullet” – partly through their own actions in starting to make changes, but also partly because they’ve been allowed the chance to improve themselves, rather than have it forced on them.

On the other hand FIRST Union, who represent bank staff, says the outcome of sales targets being phased out is something they’ve been pushing for years. Their organiser Stephen Parry put it like this: “The banks are profit-making entities and will always prioritise profits over other interests unless they are constrained by regulatory intervention or public scrutiny.”

Meanwhile, another bank, another year of massive profitability. This time it is Westpac who are raking it in, with Interest reporting that they’ve made profits of close to a billion dollars. Like fellow Australian-owned bank ANZ, who also reported huge profits last week, Westpac have been transforming their business by closing down branches in smaller centres.


Allegations have been made that a police officer broke a woman’s arm during protests around the Defence Industry Expo in Palmerston North, reports the NZ Herald. Police say they will “thoroughly investigate,” with the protester saying she was shoved, and fractured two bones. After the demonstration a photo of her was posted on twitter with her arm in a cast. A dozen people were arrested at the protests, with two scheduled to appear in court today.


Speaker Trevor Mallard and senior National MP Gerry Brownlee have found themselves on the same side – they’re both being lambasted by ACT leader David Seymour over a trip to Tokyo. One News reports the two MPs say they were on a ‘rugby diplomacy’ trip to watch the All Blacks with senior Japanese parliamentarians, at a cost of $24,000. The perk-busting and twerk-thrusting David Seymour says it was nothing but a junket, and they should be paying the money back.


More detail has emerged on whether Chinese company Huawei will be allowed to bid to roll out the country’s 5G telecommunications network. Newsroom reports that even though communications minister Kris Faafoi has raised concerns about it, the final decision could fall to GSCB Minister Andrew Little. Australia blocked Hauwei from being involved there, over concerns that allowing them to do so would have made it easier to compromise the security of the system.


This story from Stuff this morning, about a sexual assault that never resulted in charges, is a really confronting read. Prominent horse trainer Michael Breslin, then 54, groped an 18 year woman, while drunk at a New Zealand Cup Meeting in Riccarton. He made an admission of it happening, there was other compelling evidence of it happening, but police said it wasn’t enough for a prosecution, and decided to warn rather than charge him. There are further troubling questions contained in the story, both for the police and for the racing industry as a whole.


Tahr numbers will go up, after the planned summer cull had to be cancelled by DOC, reports Radio NZ. It follows the helicopter tragedy in Wanaka that left three dead – two of them were some of DOC’s most experienced hunters, who were going to be heavily involved in the cull. Recreational hunters say they’ll do what they can, but won’t be able to make up the difference of the 6000 that were marked for culling.


SuperGold cards are being used to rort the system by those who aren’t old enough to be eligible, reports Radio NZ. It’s considered to be a near-perfect form of fraud, because it’s very rare for ID to be asked for alongside the car, and the Ministry for Social Development has no idea how much of it is going on. Of course, as our esteemed editor Duncan Greive would argue, aspects of the SuperGold card are already a rort.


More Jami-Lee Ross tapes have come out. They’re a short version and a full version of the conversation in which Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett told him he had to go. I unpacked what the tape said, and what that might mean, on The Spinoff yesterday morning, and to be honest a range of conclusions could be drawn from the latest release. One thing is for sure though – it totally messed up Simon Bridges’ morning round of interviews yesterday. If you really want to hear the full 18 minute tape, One News have a copy – but I should warn you, it’s really not a pleasant listen.


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Sam watched forty-two episodes of Outlander in a week and this is now him.

Right now on The Spinoff: Jackie Edmond from Family Planning debunks some of the myths that have been going around about what abortion law reform would mean. Emily Writes can’t get her head around the “stupid toys your kids don’t need for Christmas” that are on TradeMe’s top 10 most-searched list.

Meanwhile, cult adventure TV show Outlander is back, and Tara Ward reckons it’s a really strong return. (big spoilers in this) Meanwhile Sam Brooks decided to plow through 42 episodes of Outlander in the space of a week, he then get hooked on it and now speaks of nothing but Jamie’s Scottish accent.


Here’s a a great multimedia feature series from Stuff about the people who – if we’re lucky – will one day soon be in charge. By that I mean the children, who are of course the future. The one I’ve linked to is about young people who plan to spend their life working on climate action, as it is a problem that will disproportionally affect them and their children. Here’s an excerpt:

Katie Marshall has used her platform as deputy head girl at Marist College to encourage her classmates to embrace green practices. Now that she’s leaving school and pursuing degrees in law and the arts, she hopes to inspire more people to make lifestyle changes to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

“We are so ingrained in this new age consumerist society, that we forget about what impact each and every one of us actually has. Not everything is about completing things as easily and at as fast a pace as new aged technology has taught us,” she says.

“The problem is that people don’t understand how imminent the consequences of human activity on our environment are – global warming is already affecting the Pacific Islands – and even if we do have some knowledge on problems such as plastic, everybody complains but does nothing about it.”


Here’s a really interesting story about how former NBA player Andrew Bogut came to play for the Sydney Kings in the NBL, from the Daily Telegraph (paywalled) Basically, the deal involved a last ditch negotiation to pull him away from Melbourne United, with the lure of an ownership share. It’s incredibly unusual for that to be offered to a player in any sport really, but probably made a lot of sense given he was making tens of millions of dollars a year during his NBA career.

And over in the West Indies, the White Ferns have warmed up with a cruising win over Sri Lanka. Here’s the scorecard, with Amelia Kerr the standout bowler as the Ferns their opposition for 98. Of course, it’s not the real deal yet – Sri Lanka aren’t really expected to pose much of a threat at the tournament. I’ve put together a bit of a guide as to whether the White Ferns have a chance of winning the World Cup – and that chance is pretty slim, but it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.


From our partners, World Energy Day has put a spotlight on New Zealand’s sluggish progress towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Vector’s Beth Johnson explains why the time is right to accelerate.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, pass on this signup form to them.


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