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Posts Tagged ‘Westpac’

Westpac, Peter Dunne, & Edward Snowden…

23 June 2013 7 comments

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Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

Acknowledgement: Huffington Post –  Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

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Are we  witnessing the first green buds of the Earth Spring?  All over the world, the winds of change are blowing harder and harder.

The Arab Spring was first, and people rose up against dictators in Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. In Syria, a similar popular uprising  turned into a bloody sectarian war, claiming nearly a hundred thousand lives. Dictator Assad will not give up power easily.

In the West, the Occupation movement flowered for a brief moment, but has become dormant again… for a while.

In Turkey and Brazil, people have come out onto the streets to oppose their  governments. Even democratically elected governments are feeling the brunt of popular discontent.

In the US, even as a once great symbol of freedom devolves into a police surveillance state, individuals are risking personal safety and rebelling.

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are two such men.

Manning was arrested in May 2010, and is currently facing a military trial (and we know how that will turn out).

Now, Edward Snowden is the latest whistleblower to be charged by an American system that is becoming more and more despotic.

When a government fears it’s own people, it is well past it’s Use By date.

Bradley and Snowden: history books will be kinder to them than the politicians who persecuted them.

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Dunne hasn't made up mind about GCSB bill

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ –  Dunne hasn’t made up mind about GCSB bill

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Edward Snowden made public information that revealed that US intelligence agencies were spying on citizens in countries around the world. He revealed that no one’s privacy  was safe.

Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the National led government is rushing a Bill through Parliament that would permit the GCSB to do precisely that; spy on New Zealanders.

We have moved from a nation that barely tolerated the State from prying into our lives – to one that is surveilling us; storing vast quantities of data on us; and now wants more power to spy on us.

There is barely a murmur in response.

Even the Right Wing – the political spectrum that is  (supposedly) the most intolerant and suspicious of  the growth of  State power – seems to be practically comatose. Though in reality that may be because National is proposing the law-change, and not Labour. If it were a Labour government…

Peter Dunne, fresh from  resigning his ministerial portfolios for allegely leaking the Kitteridge Report (or, more accurately, breaking an embargo, since it was one week away from being released anyway), has yesterday  announced that he might not support National’s  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

Whilst I’m not about to look a gift-moa in the mouth and happily support Dunne on this – it does raise a few questions.

Questions like… why?!?! Up till now he has been  the obedient lap-cat of the National Party, so why all of a sudden has the Coiffured One grown a pair, and practically thrown his lot in with the Snowdens and Mannings of this world?

Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog has been speculating on Dunne’s motivations in his part of the GCSB Affair in a series called The Dunne & Vance Theory.

Whatever is going on – I hope Dunne votes against the Bill. We don’t need to empower our spy agencies any more than they are already. We need to remember that the State is our servant – not the other way around.

We don’t need to be constantly surveilled, in case one of us happens to nick a pen or spray-paints ‘Key Sucks’ on the footpaths outside Parliament.

Up until the 21st century, the State pursued crooks after they committed wrong-doing. Now, the State seems intent on watching us all – in case someone, somewhere, is naughty.

Isn’t that… Big Brother?

I support Dunne on this dire issue. It is time to call a halt to the rise of the Surveillance State.

Dunne may well be the man to do it.

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Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

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I’ve always wondered…

Why have successive governments (Labour as well as National)  used Australian-owned Westpac Bank to hold government accounts – known as the ‘Master Banking Contract’?   The Master Banking Contract has been held by  Westpac for 23 years despite never  being tendered out.  It covers all government departments (except  Crown entities and  SOEs).

According to Alex Tarrant,

  • In the late 1980s, Treasury undertook an open tender to select one bank to provide the Crown’s domestic banking services. Westpac was selected to provide these services and a deed entered into in January 1989.
  • A new master agreement was signed in November 2004 and, since 2005, the Crown has negotiated ongoing contractual price reductions for contract services.
  • The contract covers only the core banking services associated with operating Government departments’ bank accounts for processing domestic receipt and payment transaction banking business in New Zealand.
  • An increasing array of banking services have developed over time that are not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac. Banking services that are not covered by the contract are regularly tendered by the departments concerned.
  • The contract applies only to Government departments, not Crown Entities or SOEs.
  • The Treasury regularly consults with key departments over pricing and service levels relating to the contract, including the possibility of conducting a future tender of the Crown’s banking arrangements.
  • The contract has not been re-tendered to date because the costs of doing so outweigh the expected benefits given the complexity of arrangements with departments and the price reductions negotiated under the existing contract.  Departments do, however, tender for a range of supplementary banking services not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac.
  • The fee arrangements between the Crown and Westpac are commercially sensitive and are not made public.

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Government considers future of Westpac’s key 21 year-old banking deal

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Here are two further points to consider,

  1. Last year Westpac NZ  reported   $707 million in after-tax profit  –  a 22 %  increase from 2011. (See: Westpac profit rises 22pc to $707m )
  2. In October 2009, the IRD won a lawsuit against Westpac which had been  taken to Court for tax avoidance. Not only did Westpace lose, but it ended up owing $961 million in back taxes and accrued interest. (See: Westpac loses massive tax case on all counts)

So, Mr Key or Mr English – just remind us again why the NZ Government still has a Master Contract for State banking, with a convicted tax avoider, that actively conspired to scam the tax-payer for nearly one billion dollars?!

How is that being a Good Corporate Citizen?

Perhaps we should just let the Russian Mafia tender for our banking services – the result would be the same.

So not only is Westpace making huge profits – $707 in 2012 alone – but they’re screwing us by not paying their share of tax, as the law demands.

Have I left anything out?

Screw the tender process.

Just give the Master Contract to Kiwi Bank. The benefits would be obvious to all but the most strident, dogmatic  right winger;

  1. No more tax avoidance – the Crown-appointed Board  (with Ministerial over-sight) would see to that,
  2. Kiwibank would make bigger profits and therefore pay a bigger dividend to the government,
  3. All profits remain in New Zealand and not shipped of overseas (to Australia in Westpac’s case)
  4. Less profits remitted overseas will help of balance of payments

Win/win/win/win.

I’m just gobsmacked that no politician – whether Labour or National – has ever seen the blindingly obvious nature of this commercial cock-up.

And strangely enough, it’s left-wing parties – Mana and the Greens – thay have to point this out to the more capitalist-minded Nats?!

Though the reasons why the Nats have stayed ‘sweet’ with Westpac seem to be less than commercially sensible and more to do with a good night out…

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Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

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Just to remind folks: New Zealand is the “least corrupt nation” on Earth. And government ministers are not corrupt, nor easily bought off by corporate parasites.

I can’t say otherwise.

Otherwise I’d be sued for telling the truth.

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Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/21/surveillance-laws-strikebreaking-subversive-groups/#sthash.ky4ZiKiZ.dpuf
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Westpac Bank has been a naughty little boy

4 August 2012 15 comments

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The Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1975 provides protections for people who have received goods or services they have not ordered or requested, i.e. unsolicited goods or services. The protections are available to all persons, not just consumers. Businesses receiving unsolicited goods or services are also protected under the Act.

The provision of goods and services in an unsolicited manner is not necessarily an issue. A problem arises, however, when the person receiving the goods does not want the goods or services and the sender or service provider demands payment.

With respect to goods, the sender relies on the consumer’s inertia not to return the unwanted goods. This practice is called “inertia selling”, and relies on the sender’s assumption that the consumer has accepted the goods because the consumer has taken possession of them. The sender then relies on this assumption to demand payment for the goods, supported by the statutory rules for determining the presumed intention of buyers and sellers under section 20 of the Sale of Goods Act 1908.

This practice puts the consumer in a position of disadvantage because their right to choose and accept the goods is limited. It also means that the consumer has responsibility for goods that are, to all intents and purposes, forced on them.

The supply of unsolicited services has the same effect as unsolicited goods in that consumers do not have the ability to choose the service or consider the associated risks. For example, when an agreement has been made for a service, liability and risk can be established so it can be managed. Where the service is unsolicited the consumer’s ability to protect their interests is reduced.

These practices put the consumer in a position of disadvantage because they deny the consumer the right to choose and accept the goods and services and any associated risks. On the other hand excluding the ability to provide goods and services on an unsolicited basis removes what can be a legitimate means of attracting business (i.e. a form of advertising) when done in an ethical and socially responsible way.

The Unsolicited Goods and Services Act balances these interests by establishing that any unsolicited goods remain the property of the sender until the person receiving them accepts them. If the sender does not recover the goods (and the consumer does not prevent the recovery) then within three months, or one month if the consumer notifies the sender that they do not want the goods, the goods become an unconditional gift to the consumer. Services are slightly different, but service providers are prohibited from invoicing unordered services unless they have reasonable cause to believe they have a right to payment. 

Ministry of Consumer Affairs, 14 June 2010

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Four years ago, almost every bank was reported to be sending unsolicited credit cards to their customers, adding to the mounting public debt in this country,

As an increasing number of consumers struggle with rising debt, a new survey reveals considerable public concern as unsolicited loan offers flood the market.

In a survey of more than 4600 people by Buzz Channel, 58% of respondents said that in the past year they’d been offered without having asked for it a new credit card, an extension of their existing card’s credit limit, a personal loan, or consumer credit.

And many are angry and want the law changed to prevent lenders from making such offers 45% said they’d like to see at least one change to credit laws to put curbs on lenders, compared to just 25% who thought the status quo was acceptable.

About 30% of respondents said they did not handle debt well

[abridged]

The biggest lenders are also the biggest users of unsolicited debt offers.

American Express was named by irate respondents 1035 times, to some extent due to approaches its salespeople make in airports and shopping malls, followed by the banks. Westpac received 352 mentions, National Bank 277, ASB 245, BNZ 221, ANZ 216, and Kiwibank, despite its smaller size, got 116 mentions.

GE Money, Diners Club, The Warehouse, Farmers Card, AA and Q Card were also reported as making unsolicited card-based debt offers, with GE Money topping the list of finance companies aggressively marketing debt in this way.   “

See: Barrage of unsolicited credit offers angers consumers

A year later, Westpac was being singled out as sending out not one, but two unsolicited credit cards, to it’s customers,

A month ago the bank offered Visa customers a new American Express (Amex) card, giving them a couple of weeks to opt out of the product. For those who didn’t, the companion cards started arriving last weekend – but so did the complaints.

Westpac says it has targeted specific customers, the cards attract no extra fee, the customers’ credit limit doesn’t change, they still receive just the one bill and even earn extra reward points with Amex.”

See: Westpac’s credit card giveaway draws complaints

This practice was endorsed by Victoria University economist, Neil Quigley, who said,

I think they’re looking to broaden their customer base, and they’re looking to add value to customers,. They’re also looking to add value to the customers that they see as most valuable.”

I’m sure they are.

But it is a practice that encourages undisciplined debt and is an irresponsible mis-use of  the power that banks wield.

About a year ago, a close friend of this blogger, “Tina” (not her real name), recieved two unsolicited credit cards from one of her two banks,

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All identifying marks have been redacted from the letters and credit cards, but this blogger has retained both originals, which are personally addressed to “Tina”.

“Tina” filed the items with a pile of other papers, as she was in the process of moving house, and thought no more of them.

That is, until she received a bank statement. She had been charged $45 for each card, despite  neither having been activated. Indeed, both cards are still affixed, by gum, to their respective covering letters.

“Tina” contacted Westpac and spent considerable time having the charges reversed.  She was able to demonstrate that she had never used the cards, and that she wanted them cancelled.  After several phone calls and a visit to her Bank branch, the charges were eventually reversed.

So much for ‘safeguards’,

The card needs a phone call to be activated, so if customers have concerns the advice is to cut it up and throw it away.”

See: Westpac’s credit card giveaway draws complaints

“Tina” does not want any more credit cards. She is trying to manage a large debt after her marital break-up, and extra credit is the last thing she needs right now.

She admits that it was tempting to use the cards, but is looking at other ways to consolidate; manage; and repay her debts.

Other people in “Tina’s” position might succumb to the temptation.  “Tina’s” position is unfortunately not uncommon,

The reason so many unsolicited debt offers are made, is that so many of us succumb to them.

One in five respondents admitted to Buzz Channel that they had used their increased card limits, or had accepted direct invitations to take out a loan, or spend up on a revolving credit loan they had paid off.

Though credit is easy to take out, it’s hard to get rid of.

A third of those who had tried to cancel a credit card, close a revolving credit account, or reduce their credit card limit said they had met stiff resistance.

See: Barrage of unsolicited credit offers angers consumers

As poverty increases in this country; unemployment grows; and welfare is insufficient to meet everyday outgoings, the use of credit cards becomes a desperate option for many people.

The practice of sending out unsolicited credit cards should be outlawed. Or, if recipients end up using them, banks should become liable if  credit card users are unable to meet repayment obligations.

Sending unsolicited credit cards to people in debt is like sending alcohol samples to alcoholics, and deserves our total contempt.

This is simply not good enough. An incoming Labour-led government must address this problem as a matter of priority.

And Westpac should reconsider this dubious practice.

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Additional

Ministry of Consumer Affairs: 7.2 Unsolicited Goods and Services

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Thank you, now p*** off!

13 February 2012 3 comments

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When New Zealanders erupted in anger and  disgust at the sale of sixteen farms to a Chinese consortium, Maurice Williamson and his right wing groupies labelled critics of farm sales as “racists”.

When people opposed the sale of ‘Young Nick’s Head” to New York millionaire, John Griffin, and South Island high-country farms to Shania Twain – their cries to stop land sales were ignored.

We have privatised and sold dozens of former state-owned-assets to offshore investors. Australians now own half of Contact Energy and the BNZ, as well as other profitable businesses, and we lose billions annually by way of dividends remitted to overseas investors.

In the latest news, Australian-owned banks,  ANZ National, BNZ, ASB and Westpac, made a staggering $3 billion dollars in profit – most of it remitted to Australia,

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Full Story

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However, our elected representatives; our Honourable Members of Parliament; those most learned men and women; assure us that privatisation of state assets and farms is a good thing.

Privatisation, they say, creates jobs.

Yes, of course it does,

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BullshitFull Story

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No pain, no gain.

Except – we seem to be getting the pain and others are creaming the gain. How does that work?!?!

I know! Let’s ask the politicians!

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“They are not here for lands but bring the investment in, which can create jobs for us. We should not be hostile to foreign investment, whether the money is from China, Australia or America.” – Prime Minister John Key

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“Beneficial foreign investment makes a positive contribution to New Zealand through increased jobs, capital and access to export markets.” – Bill English, Finance Minister, Deputy PM, and sheep farmer

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“Not enough New Zealanders appreciate the benefits of foreign investment and economic growth. The reaction of too many people was “you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t do the other thing with little thought to the impact it had on potential jobs.” – Development Minister Steven Joyce

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Are we convinced?

Ok, New Zealanders… Time to wake up to the fact we are being rorted – with the connivance of most of our elected representatives.

Wake up!

Really.

Now is good.

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From 2011 back to 1991?

1 December 2011 23 comments

Even without a Tardis, John Key’s National government is set to return New Zealand to 1991, as it plans to cut spending and make more state sector workers redundant,

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Full Story

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Yet, the NZIER is warning of dire consequences  should National proceed with more cuts to state sector spending,

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Source

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Many will recall that it was precisely brecause of severe cuts to state spending in 1991 that made New Zealand’s recession so much worse at the time. Ruth Richardson even boasted that her budget was the “Mother of All Budgets”.

Economic data is presented here, in graph form, and shows the immediate conseqences that impacted on New Zealand soon after Richardson’s Budgetary cuts were implemented. Unemployment skyrocketed to approximately 11% – the highest since Depression days in the 1930s.

It is generally considered that Richardson’s harsh cuts unnecessarily deepened New Zealand’s recessionary effects. It caused considerable misery throughout the country as businesses collapsed; GDP fell; the prison population increased; and credit ratings agencies downgraded the country.

As John Key’s government lays plans for implementing more state sector cuts, it is clearly apparent that New Zealand’s economy is still struggling,

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And just to really drive home the fact that matters are becoming dire,  ratings agency Standard & Poor’s today downgraded the credit ratings of our major banks;  ANZ New Zealand, ASB, BNZ, and Westpac New Zealand,along with their Australian parents.

Things are not looking terribly flash,

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Whilst it is abundantly obvious that we cannot influence events on the other side of the globe, and that the slow disintergration of the Eurozone; the economic downturn in China; and America’s mind-numbingly huge deficit – that our government can still play a role in what happens locally.

First and foremost, now is not the time to be cutting back on state sector spending and government workers. Adding to unemployment will not help matters and will simply,

  • reduce overall consumption spending by unemployed civil servants
  • make it harder for 154,000 currently unemployed to find jobs
  • reduce overall economic activity

John Key needs to read up on our recent history and learn from the mistakes of his predecessors, Jim Bolger and Ruth Richardson.

He needs to understand that government cutbacks during a recession will not help – and will actually make matters much worse.

Instead, the incoming government should be considering the following;

  • Shelve all plans for further cutbacks
  • Abandon further cutbacks of state sector employees
  • Implement a crash training programme for those currently unemployed, removing barriers such as fees
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour
  • Compensate the increase in  minimum wage with a correlating tax write-off/reduction, for companies affected for one year
  • Increase the top tax rate for income earners over $100,000
  • Review Working for Famlies for those earning over $100,000

Some high income earners, businesspeople, and free marketeers may squeal at the above suggestions – but we either pay to keep our economy afloat and maintain high employment – or we’ll pay for  welfare, increased crime, social dislocation and other problems, as well more skilled Kiwis fleeing to Australia.

Why not pay to achieve positive outcomes instead of the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the cliff?

Because either way, we will pay.

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Additional

Wellington hit with leap in mortgagee sales

Wellington furniture company in liquidation

Fourth National Government of New Zealand

The 1991 Budget and Tertiary Education: Promises, Promises…

Reserve Bank – Employment-Unemployment

Dept of Corrections: Prison sentenced snapshot trend since 1980

Annual figures for Bankruptcies and Liquidations since 1988

Chris Ford: National/ACT Coalition aiming to complete New Right revolution

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