The Federal opposition in the Australian parliament, reached a new height of preposterous arrogance today. When I heard the latest outpourings from Leader of the Liberals, Malcolm Turnball and his buddy, Joe Hockey, reported on the radio late afternoon as I was driving home from my part-time job, I was so astounded that I was compelled to pull over and scribble the details down.
Last week, in face of an expected announcement by the Reserve Bank of Australia, decreasing in interest rates, the Australian banks let it be known that they would not necessarily pass on the full decrease to its customers. Nothing new there -as rates were rising, they started passing on more than the increases. So when rates drop, it fits with their current modus operandi to only pass on part of the decrease.
The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, basically admitted that his government lacked the power to force banks to pass on all of any decrease in official rates. Federal Opposition leader, Malcolm Turnball (after recently acquiring the leadership through nothing short of backroom political backstabbing), started jumping and down about the ineffectiveness of the government in not being able to force the banks to comply.
Now hold on there Malcolm, sunshine, your lot prior to November 24, 2007, didn't do anything to stop banks from passing more more than official increases. If it was so important that government have the power to enforce such matters, then why the hell didn't your lot do it during your last decade-plus in office? How can you now make such noise about the Rudd government's inability to do anything when you know only too damn well that apart from anything else, the necessary legislative framework doesn't exist. What did you expect? That Rudd's boys would be able to rush one through in a matter of days? Not flaming likely.
The RBA made its announcement yesterday. To the amazement of many, including financial markets, the decrease was a full one percent. The banks in turn have said that they will be passing on some 80% of that decrease to its customers. Malcolm Turnball then came out with the absolutely incredible suggestion that this only occurred because the Opposition (meaning him) had made a fuss. His exact expression was that they had 'put a stake in the ground'. I'm not even sure what that expression is intended to mean. And since when does business kow tow to rantings by an Opposition party? Especially when they are going to remain the Opposition for probably another two years yet before being able to have a crack at regaining office. And my money says that Turnball won't even still be leader then.
The Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, was hard pressed so keep himself from laughing when responding to Turnball's colossal arrogance. In fact the ghost of a snigger actually crept into his voice during an official response.
The Opposition Leader of Government Business (in other words, the one who makes the biggest damn noise from the Opposition benches during Parliamentary sessions), Joe Hockey, then made his contribution to this ridiculous episode.
Now our mate Joe is no stranger to making big statements that have no foundation in fact. Take for example his vehement public statements in the second half of 2007 that the Liberal Party was 100% behind the continuing leadership of then leader, John Howard. Very shortly after the November 2007 election loss by Joe's mob, he appears in a documentary claiming that he had personally advised Howard to stand down from the leadership (as numerous others allegedly also did). So much for Joe's very public posturing of support for Howard.
Today Joe Hockey added another limb to his tree of very much self-proclaimed excellence. He is now, apparently, a greater expert in national economics than anyone in the RBA. Joe comes out, insisting that the RBA was wrong to have made such a decrease. Never mind that all the signs are of inflationary pressures easing, not to mention the current risk of major economic collapse as a result of the continuing financial and economic crisis in the USA. A decrease would appear to have been the correct decision to make. But not according to Joe baby - no, he knows better.
Oh - and another little episode from Joe's background which emphasises that despite all this latest posturing, the Liberals were just as impotent in controlling the behaviour of banks as everyone else. The position with Australian banks is that while they are quite happy to accept an authority from a customer to accept authorised debits to their accounts via Direct Debit, withdrawing that authority from the bank was not sufficient to ensure that deductions ceased. Instead, despite a bank no longer holding the authority to permit these deductions to continue, customers were told it was their responsibility to have the party originating the deductions to cease them.
Now our mate Joe held a minor financial portfolio at the time. In response to some consumer complaints about this behaviour, Joe made a very public statement that he was putting the banks etc 'on notice' that this behaviour was unacceptable and not to continue. Great
sound bite Joe, but guess what - the situation didn't change. Just more noise and no action.
So Malcolm Turnball has the Australian banking industry so in awe of him, that they do what he says? Yeah right. *cough cough bullshit cough* And Joe Hockey knows more about macro economics than the Reserve Bank of Australia. *cough cough cough bull-freaking-shit cough*