Co-leader Russel Norman says the Green Party supports class action against "unfair" bank fees and he has prepared a Member's Bill that would ensure banks offer a basic fee-free banking service.
Norman threw the Greens backing behind the legal action launched by New Zealand lawyer Andrew Hooker, Australian class action experts Slater & Gordon, and Aussie litigation funder Litigation Lending Services over up to NZ$1 billion worth of bank fees they maintain were unlawful. And on top of this Norman said the Greens had "ready legislation" to ensure future bank fees were fair and transparent.
"The legislation, in the form of a Member's Bill, will ensure that banks offer a basic fee-free banking service, that bank fees are fair and reflect the actual costs involved, and make the Reserve Bank responsible for the oversight of bank fee charges," said Norman.
"I strongly support the class action announced today to recoup excessive bank default fees," said Norman. "The fact that bank fees remain so high is another indication of the lack of competition in our banking sector."
He maintains that, on average, New Zealanders are paying at least NZ$200 a year on bank fees.
"The exact amount is unknown, however. Unlike Australia, our Reserve Bank does not have oversight of this aspect of banking activity or report regularly on bank fees," said Norman.
"I have drafted legislation that will ensure banks offer a basic fee-free banking service, require real time warnings of impending bank fees, and require the Reserve Bank to ensure all bank fees are fair and reflect the actual costs of services provided."
A basic fee-free service must include basic transaction services, internet access to the account, and an EFTPOS/debit card, Norman said. The account must be free of ongoing service fees such as monthly account service fees and penalty fees for actions and transgressions of third parties.
"The legislation also requires banks to disclose all relevant cost information to the Reserve Bank to allow it to determine the fairness of any bank fee charged. Banks would have to offer real-time warnings of fees before a proposed internet, electronic, or face-to-face transaction is finalised. This will give customers the opportunity to discontinue," said Norman.