Banks’ ‘dis­grace­ful’ con­duct com­plaint

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

The scale of ex­ploita­tion peo­ple in the Pilbara faced at the hands of banks dur­ing the min­ing boom and bust was front and cen­tre of sev­eral round­table meet­ings re­lated to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s bank­ing royal com­mis­sion in Kar­ratha late last month.

WA Se­nate deputy pres­i­dent and chair­woman of com­mit­tees Sue Lines and Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel met busi­nesses, not-for-profit groups and in­di­vid­ual res­i­dents on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 22, to dis­cuss how the be­hav­iour of big banks had af­fected peo­ple in the re­gion, es­pe­cially dur­ing the high of the min­ing con­struc­tion boom and sub­se­quent eco­nomic down­turn.

Ms Lines said ev­ery­one they had heard from said banks had preyed on peo­ple in the Pilbara dur­ing the boom pe­riod.

“We’ve heard how dur­ing the boom times here, peo­ple were pres­sured, money was given away with­out proper check­ing, that money was of­fered over and over again and of­ten peo­ple were of­fered prod­ucts be­yond what they could af­ford,” she said.

“And when or­di­nary peo­ple have tried to get on top of their fi­nances and their mort­gages, the banks have just shut it down and have just not been in­ter­ested.

“The way the banks have be­haved in this town is ab­so­lutely dis­grace­ful.”

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said dur­ing the boom Pilbara had been one of the most af­fected re­gions when it came to bank­ing greed.

“If the banks had wanted to, they could have made changes, by re­do­ing loans and (chang­ing) the in­ter­est rate. But they never did do it,” he said.

Busi­ness Cen­tre Pilbara chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Jag­ger said the risk-averse ap­proach banks had taken since the end of the boom was still hav­ing a ma­jor im­pact on busi­nesses in the re­gion.

“What we’ve clearly wit­nessed in the last eco­nomic down­turn is a very heavy-handed knee-jerk re­sponse from ma­jor lend­ing in­sti­tu­tions, that’s not only im­pacted on ex­ist­ing busi­nesses al­most to the point where some of them have had to de­clare bank­ruptcy, but it’s had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on de­ter­ring other po­ten­tial in­vestors to come in,” he said.

“Now we’re see­ing signs of pos­i­tive come­back from the re­gion, what usu­ally would hap­pen, in a nor­mal sit­u­a­tion, is that in­vestors will see the fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties and they’ll come in, but our lend­ing in­sti­tu­tions have made it so dif­fi­cult that they have de­terred in­vestors.

“When that im­pacts on those peo­ple who are do­ing it tough, I think it’s very poor.”

The Kar­ratha hear­ing was part of a set of round­table hear­ings in cities and towns not vis­ited by the for­mal royal com­mis­sion that was an­nounced by La­bor in Oc­to­ber.

The for­mal bank­ing royal com­mis­sion is due to hand down its find­ings in Fe­bru­ary.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

WA Se­nate deputy pres­i­dent and chair­woman of com­mit­tees Sue Lines and Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel in Kar­ratha for the Bank­ing Royal Com­mis­sion Round­table.

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