By Green Party co-leader Russel Norman
New Zealand's biggest banking contract has been a tightly-guarded secret for 21 years. The Government first signed the master banking contract with Westpac back in 1989 when David Lange was Prime Minister. There has never been a single competitive tender since.
The Green Party was the first to highlight this cosy banking relationship last year as part of our campaign to make our banking sector — a key sector within our economy — more competitive. We secured a copy of the original master banking contract under the Official Information Act and offer it here publicly for the first time.
You may be disappointed by how much of the information has been censored by Treasury. What convoluted rationale did they use to deem twenty-one-year-old data 'commercially sensitive'? Did they not want us to know how much money the bank was making? Or how slow their computers were back then? (Their minimum performance specifications for a computer balance enquiry were 'no more than 30 seconds after the ‘enter’ key is struck'.)
For what it’s worth, here’s the entire contract, including the original request for a proposal.
The Government has recently made a commitment to re-tender the master banking contract. We’re hoping some of the contract can be secured by Kiwibank and, in time, all of the contract. Our Government's banking should be done by our New Zealand bank.
And we’ll keep working to make sure our banking sector becomes more competitive, and more New- Zealand owned. It's not in New Zealand's long-term interests to have 95% of our banking industry controlled by four foreign-owned banks that send a majority of their profits off-shore each and every year.
This item was first posted on Frogblog.
For background see: