Bank merger will hit Tasmania hard

Issue 

Bank merger will hit Tasmania hard

By Alex Bainbridge

HOBART — In November, when it sold the Trust Bank for $149 million, the Labor state government promised that there would be no job losses, no branch closures and a "net benefit" for Tasmanians. These promises now stand worthless after the Trust's purchaser, Colonial, begins merger talks with the Commonwealth Bank.

Premier Jim Bacon claimed that his government had accepted Colonial's assurances "in good faith" and said that Colonial hadn't mentioned during negotiations the possibility of a takeover. He called on the federal government to block the merger between Colonial and the Commonwealth Bank.

The people of Tasmania will definitely be worse off as a result of the merger. Up to 300 jobs will go in this state alone and at least 17 branches are tipped to close. The Commonwealth Bank will find it easier to impose higher fees on bank users and the other major banks will follow suit.

When the Trust Bank was sold, the establishment media gave prominent coverage to views supporting the "benefits" of privatisation. Now they tell us that perhaps the $149 million paid by Colonial for the Trust Bank was a "bargain".

Management consultant Paul Lucas's pronouncement said it all: "I think both parties [the Commonwealth and Colonial] will benefit — at the end of the day it is a bit of a win-win situation, except for staff who might lose their jobs".