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Reserve Bank has got it wrong - Greens

Friday 9 Nov 2012 10:34 a.m.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman

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The Greens are challenging the Reserve Bank over profits made by New Zealand's big four Australian-owned banks.

The bank's governor, Graeme Wheeler, told a parliamentary committee this week that Westpac, BNZ, ANZ and ASB were "about average" in international terms but Green's co-leader Russel Norman says that's wrong.

"In 2011 the big four Australian banks made a pre-tax return of 1.19 per cent on assets compared with a global average of 0.36 per cent," he said on Friday.

"Our Australian-owned banks are actually some of the most profitable in the world, contrary to advice recently given to parliament by the Reserve Bank governor."

The four banks are reported to have made a combined profit of nearly $3.5 billion in 2011/12 and Dr Norman says nearly all of it ended up in Australia.

"When you make the comparison of the profitability of our banks with the rest of our economy, it's very clear they're making excessive profits to the detriment of jobs and incomes," he said.

"Excessive bank profits act as a drag on the wider economy, raising the cost of borrowing for productive enterprises, farmers and home owners."

Dr Norman says New Zealand can't afford to have a complacent regulator that looks at excessive bank profits and then looks away.

ASB is owned by Commonwealth Bank, while BNZ is owned by National Australia Bank.


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