Labor privatises Trust Bank
By Alex Bainbridge
HOBART — Tasmania's Labor government has decided to privatise the state's Trust Bank. The bank's sale to Colonial Ltd for $149 million is being presented by the government and the Mercury newspaper as a "win for Tasmania".
It was originally claimed that none of the bank's branches would close, that services would increase and that there would be no "mass sackings". However, on November 18 the state treasurer admitted that some "middle management" jobs would go.
The next day it was reported that the government planned to block moves by the Liberals to guarantee no job or branch losses. Premier Jim Bacon was quoted as saying, "Colonial cannot be expected to invest $149 million in the bank and then allow parliament to dictate how many people it can employ and where they will be employed".
The government and the bank claim the sale has been made necessary by a "competitive environment" and an increasing ratio of operating costs to revenue. The bank reported almost $80 million in profits between 1994 and 1998.