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  • rmacculloch

Has ANZ Bank Become NZ's Very Own Colonial-Style East India Company?

Who owns ANZ Bank? It may surprise you. Despite having "NZ" in its name, it has next to nothing to do with New Zealand. Geographically, most of the ownership is concentrated in the US, Bloomberg data shows, with 42.4% of owners living there, distantly followed by Australia at 24.8%. Kiwis don't figure in the equation. Yet its impossible for NZ'ers to escape from the clutches of ANZ Bank. Its former Chair was Sir John Key, the former PM, of course. The woman who conducted the Leaders Debates at the last Election, Jessica Mutch McKay, who worked for failing State-Owned One News as its Political Editor, resigned last year from that job to become Head of Government Relations & Corporate Responsibility at ANZ. Don't you love that euphemism, "Government Relations"? ANZ's present Chair & CEO were on the Air Force Jet with PM Luxon on his Japan trip. He says they're "A-listers". Apparently a Kiwi starting up an internet finance company to take business away from the Big Banks doesn't qualify. ANZ's Chief Economist, Sharon Zollner, is given free time & space across the Main Stream Media, including the likes of NewsTalkZB, to go on anytime to pretend to talk economics, but actually just advertise ANZ Bank. A few years ago, Infrastructure NZ invited the ANZ Chief Economist to interview the Secretary to the NZ Treasury at the start of its conference. Nice for some to have the inside track on the future of NZ, no doubt helping ANZ plan its financial future. None of my University colleagues have ever been invited to do that kind of thing. But then again, we're not a big corporate sponsor.

ANZ is the "Key, Premier Sponsor" of a conference this August, called Building Nations, in Auckland. Who are they paying for to speak (with your mortgage interest payments)? The likes of Ed Glaeser, Head of the Harvard Economics Department, who I already invited to NZ a few years ago on a non-partisan visit hosted by Auckland University & Motu in Wellington, during which time he spoke with everyone he needed to in government, Councils & private sector. What's the point of a repeat visit, other than a publicity stunt to generate headlines for ANZ? The ANZ CEO & Chief Economist will be sharing the stage and "networking" with Chris Bishop, Minister of Infrastructure, MP Simon Watts, MP Simon Court, Mayor of Auckland, and CEOs of the NZ Transport Agency & NZ Infrastructure, who will also be there.

John Judge, a former Chair of ANZ Bank is a Director of the NZ Initiative, which has become the Think Tank of the National Party, whilst pretending to be non-partisan. ANZ Bank is a fully paid-up Member of the Initiative. Its' former employee, Matt Burgess, is PM Luxon's Economic Adviser. Its' current employee, Michael Johnston, was appointed Chair of the Coalition's newly established Ministerial Advisory Group to review the primary school English, Maths & Statistics curricula in NZ. I could go on, filling pages on how ANZ Bank has become indistinguishable from the NZ Government. Its our very own East India Company. No wonder Kiwis are losing faith in capitalism. It has become dominated by those who pretend to support free markets, but in practice, behind our backs, push back against them. This claustrophobic, inbred side of NZ, whereby the "A-Listers" get together to carve up the country and put up the cost-of-living for C-listers has got to stop.


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