Banking revolt

BAYSWATER council’s investment portfolio should be not be with banks found guilty of wrongdoing by the Hayne Royal Commission, Cr Brent Fleeton says.

With about $85 million of ratepayers funds lodged with big banks, Cr Fleeton wants staff to investigate the implications of moving the funds to other lenders. He’s unhappy with the big 4 banks following the financial skeletons unearthed by the royal commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial sector.

At the City of Stirling, new councillor Bianca Sandri got unanimous support for a similar notice of motion.

Cr Fleeton posted on his councillor Facebook page ahead of the vote: “With the Royal Commission continuing to uncover disgraceful behaviour from our banks and financial institutions, there is clearly an ingrained culture in the banks of treating Australians like fools. We all need to take our own stand against this corrupt industry”.

The wording of the motion targets banks found to have “acted inappropriately”.

Cr Fleeton told Tuesday’s council meeting: “Inappropriate behaviour is, to me, this seemingly built-in culture in the banking system to make money at all costs, and there’s no thought of the human element to that, especially in small business.

“As someone who’s just started a small business, I’m terrified of approaching a bank right now and putting my lot on the line.”

Cr Lorna Clarke seconded the motion, saying “we are seeing possibly illegal, highly unethical and completely unconscionable behaviour from a number of major and not so major lenders and financial institutions”.

In mid 2017 Bayswater councillors voted in-principle to not invest with banks involved in the fossil fuel industry at the urge of activist group 350.org.

Cr Fleeton voted against that divestment, saying: “I didn’t agree with that move as I value our resources and energy sector and the contribution it makes to our economy, however I understand the importance of symbolism in taking the fight to fix something you see as being wrong.

“There would be many City of Bayswater residents and ratepayers who have been treated appallingly by the banks over the years. This is one way your local council can stand up for you.”

The royal commission’s final report is due February next year.

by DAVID BELL

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