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Finsec calls for Bill English to work with Aussie counterpart to curb bank CEOs pay

Finsec calls for Bill English to work with Aussie counterpart to curb bank CEOs pay

Bank workers’ union Finsec says Finance Minister Bill English should team up with his Australian counterpart Wayne Swan to establish rules limiting bank executives' pay.

Finsec's comments come after it emerged this week that Westpac New Zealand CEO George Frazis received A$4.38 million (NZ$5.56 million) in the year to September. Frazis and his counterparts at ANZ and BNZ, Jenny Fagg and Andrew Thorburn, were paid almost NZ$12 million between them in the year to September.

Finance Minister Bill English has said Westpac should explain to its customers why Frazis' remuneration is so high during tough economic times but stopped short of endorsing the idea of caps on executive pay.

However, Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell is urging English to do more.

“Bill English should talk to Wayne Swan and take a trans-Tasman approach to this issue," said Campbell.

"Australia will be making announcements about new bank regulation soon. It makes sense for there to be a common approach.”

Campbell noted the same banks operated on both sides of the Tasman and the CEOs, such as Frazis, are generally on the executive teams of their Australian parent companies, meaning they should be covered to some extent by any new Australian rules.

“Bill English said the bank should front to its customers, but customers and shareholders need the backing of government and new rules to control corporate excesses. Ordinary customers and shareholders can’t tell the bank what to do, but regulators and governments can," said Campbell.

“Government needs to set the boundaries in order to deliver more sensible pay for bank bosses. There are a range of options that can and should be explored. Salary caps are not the only way for this to be done.”

“We call on the Finance Minister to take appropriate steps to work in with the changes being undertaken by the Australian government to curb these corporate excesses.”

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