Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't sell Kiwibank

National is talking up the prospect of selling Kiwibank to "mum and dad" investors. The problem? Kiwi mums and dads already own it. Yes, its through a trust called the New Zealand Government, but we own it. And this ownership has certain advantages.

The primary one, of course, is that it works for us. Which means we can get bank accounts without paying exorbitant fees and mortgages at reasonable rates. The dividends go towards paying for hospitals and schools, rather than straight offshore to Australia. Plus of course it actually pays its taxes - unlike those thieving Aussie banks.

All those advantages will be lost if National sells it. While National talks about selling it to ordinary kiwis, the reality is that it will be sold to an Australian bank. Which means it will become just another Aussie bank: greedy, rapacious, part of the cosy little oligopoly Kiwibank was established to break.

Kiwibank is a great example of the success of state-owned companies. It performs an important public function: making banking services available to all, and ensuring there is competition in the banking market. And it makes a profit while doing so. This benefits all New Zealanders. No wonder National wants to get rid of it.