ASIC is part of the banking problem, not solution

A nationalised banking system could be a massive funding base to revive the ailing public sector.

The Finance Sector Union has slammed a plan to "embed" financial regulatory agency officers inside the Big Four banks and the financial management giant AMP. The FSU says that officers from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which has been criticised for being “too close to the banks”, would be unable to penetrate the unethical internal culture of the banks.

The move comes as the federal Coalition government announced an extra $70 million in funding to ASIC to allow it to be the "tough cop on the beat” following the revelations coming out of the banking royal commission.

In reality, the widely exposed crimes and malpractices of the banks occurred with the full knowledge and complicity of ASIC and the funding increase simply replaces funding cut from the agency’s allocation in the May budget.

ASIC was not designed to combat the misconduct of the Big Banks: rather, it is an integral part of the government’s machinery, aimed at facilitating the operations of the Big Bank cartel.

At most, it is a coordinating mechanism between the banks, and a facade to pretend that there is real market competition and consumer protection.

Socialist Alliance national co-convenor Susan Price told Green Left Weekly: “The abject failure of ASIC to effectively supervise and control banking practices is not the source of the problem.

“The system is working as it is intended to work — to maximise profits for the major banking and financial corporations at the expense of ordinary working people.

“This is the essence of capitalism’s financial oligopoly. The labour movement and the public need to challenge this corporate monster head-on. The time for tinkering is over.

“We need a major national campaign to take back the wealth that has been stolen from us over decades.

“A nationalised banking system could be a massive funding base to revive the ailing public sector, including for spending on public health, education, transport, housing and sustainable energy.

“And the best way of avoiding any new public banking system management becoming corporatised and bureaucratic is ensuring that control is firmly in the hands of an elected board, representing employees and the community.

“That way, lending and savings policies on accounts and credit cards, home mortgages and investments would be directed toward the public interest, not private profit.”

Reforming ASIC and other state regulatory agencies will not solve the fundamental problems of Australia's corporatised financial system.  Instead, we need to start a campaign to demand the nationalisation of the Big Banks and other financial giants, under workers' and community control.