Posted on 03. Nov, 2010 in Election Media Release, News

Is the reason Ted Baillieu’s economic team have been silent on bank interest rate hikes because they are conflicted by the fact that they own shares in the major banking corporations, Treasurer John Lenders asked today.

Mr Lenders said while family budgets were being put under pressure by yesterday’s interest rate rises Shadow Treasurer Kim Wells and Shadow Minister for Finance Robert Clark could not utter a word. Mr Wells and Mr Clark have shareholdings in the major banks.

“You would have to ask whether the real reason Mr Baillieu’s economic team won’t stand up against the big banks is because they stand to profit from rate increases,” Mr Lenders said.

“Mr Baillieu doesn’t understand what it means to run a family budget and his team thinks that home loan rate rises will be good for their share portfolios.

“Whose interests are the Liberals really interested in – Victoria’s families or their own?

“There is no issue with owning shares in banks but if you want to run Victoria’s $284 billion economy, you need to be able to prove you have no conflicts of interests.”

The most recent register of interests of the Victorian Parliament shows that Shadow Treasurer Kim Wells owns shares in Westpac, Shadow Minister for Finance Robert Clark owns shares in ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank and Westpac, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Louise Asher owns shares in the ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac.  Leader of the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council David Davis also owns shares in the Commonwealth Bank.

“I call on Mr Baillieu’s economic team to sell their shares in any bank so they can join the Brumby Labor Government in standing up for families and small businesses,” Mr Lenders said.

“It is not good enough to sit on the sidelines, watch your banking portfolio grow while working families and small businesses are suffering through unfair rate rise increases.

“Mr Baillieu is too weak to direct his shadow economic team to sell their banking shares. How could Mr Wells possibly take a place at the Cabinet table and make economic decisions when he is so conflicted?”

Mr Lenders said the Brumby Labor Government shared the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Graeme Samuel’s concern at price signalling behaviour by the banking sector.

“As the Premier has signalled today, our Government is ready to support Graeme Samuel and the ACCC and give them any assistance they may need to get to the bottom of price signalling and price setting behaviour,” he said.

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