A case for postal banking in “Taking on the banks: The truth about the Australia Post Cartier watches affair”

“Taking on the banks: The truth about the Australia Post Cartier watches affair” (Citizens Insight / Australian Citizens Party, 19 February 2021)

In this video, the Australian Citizens Party makes a strong case that the Australian government’s sacking of Christine Holgate as CEO of Australia Post for awarding senior Australia Post managers Cartier watches worth $20,000 as performance bonuses masks an agenda to enforce a privatisation of the postal institution which would effectively prevent Holgate from developing Australia Post as a postal bank offering an alternative banking service to the Big Four banking corporations (Westpac Banking Corporation, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Bank of Australia) that would actually benefit all Australians and the Australian economy in the long term. Narrator Glen Isherwood explains how supporting Holgate is an important step in supporting the creation and development of a postal bank that works for the public’s interests, and in forcing the Australian banking and financial industry to clean up the corruption among its largest companies which enjoy oligarchic cartel-like control over the industry.

Isherwood leads off with examples of corruption such as liar loans, faked payslips, forged documents and cash bribes in the Australian banking and financial industry. Liar loans amount to nearly $500 billion and customers have been charged up to $1 billion worth of services they never received. Despite a recent Royal Commission in 2018 uncovering instances of bank corruption and predatory behaviour on bank customers, the Coalition government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed the Commission did not uncover any criminal behaviour that his government did not know about. Isherwood then returns to the topic of Australia Post and Holgate, and reels off how Australia Post saved bank customers across the country when the major Australian banks closed down branches and left many towns and communities without a banking service. For this, Holgate compelled the major Australian banks to pay commissions amounting to $70 million to Australia Post. Isherwood then demonstrates how the Australian government contrived to create a case around Holgate and the Cartier watches to push for her sacking by paying $2 million for a report whose authors Maddocks even admitted Holgate had not engaged in illegal activity but nevertheless found there were no rules governing Holgate’s decision to award the watches to the senior manager (which could be interpreted to mean that she had broken no rules at all).

An interesting comparison between Holgate’s performance as Australia Post CEO and her predecessor Ahmed Fahour’s performance then follows, showing up how effective Holgate has been in turning around Australia Post’s business and forcing the major Australian banks to cough up what they owe to Australia Post. Isherwood’s report is supported by interviewee Angela Cramp, the executive director of Community Licensed Post Offices Group, an organisation representing the interests of the people who are owner-managers of licensed post offices.

At the time of this review, a swelling group of prominent politicians (including Barnaby Joyce and Bob Katter), journalists, analysts and others have come forward to support Holgate. The Australian Labor Party is attempting to distance itself from its early castigation of Holgate and portraying itself as a staunch supporter of Holgate by piling criticism on the Morrison government. Two more interviewees, solicitor Robert Butler and former ANZ Bank director John Dahlsen discuss Holgate’s performance as CEO: Butler describes the craven behaviour of Board of Directors of Australia Post in supporting privatisation of the Australia Post and desertion of Holgate once her views about Australia Post becoming a postal bank became known; and Dahlsen praises Holgate’s achievements in a difficult working environment.

Using interviews and newspaper articles, the Australian Citizens Party exposes the agenda of the Morrison government and the elites it answers to as a predatory one antagonistic to the interests, needs and desires of the Australian public. Privatising Australia Post would deliver huge profits to a small number of companies and individuals while Australia Post employees lose their jobs and post offices in rural or remote areas are forced to close, leaving communities without banking services. The Australian Citizens Party cites sources such as Daisuke Kotegawa, a former senior Ministry of Finance public servant in Japan, who explains the difference between financial benefit (usually immediate and short-term) and economic benefit (usually associated with major infrastructure projects, and long-term and often hard to quantify), to support its call for a postal bank service. Viewers sceptical that the Australian Citizens Party is cherry-picking and citing sources to support its push for a postal banking service are urged to do online searches on the advantages and disadvantages of postal banking: the article by Mehrsa Baradaran at this link is a good introduction to the topic .

Reforming Australia’s financial industry in “Japan Post Bank: The great postal banking success”

“Japan Post Bank: The great postal banking success – Interview with Daisuke Kotegawa” (Citizens Insight / Australian Citizens Party, 15 February 2021)

In this informative interview conducted by Robert Barwick with Daisuke Kotegawa (Research Director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies, and former Deputy Director at Japan’s Ministry of Finance and representative of Japan to the IMF), the case is made for the separation of commercial banks and investment banks and for Australia to reintroduce a savings bank for individual deposits. First of all Barwick stresses that the main aim of the interview is to emphasise the need for Australia to have a savings bank separate from the Gang of Four banks (Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking Corporation) if the country is to restore and rebuild its manufacturing capabilities and national and state infrastructures. He then allows Kotegawa to give a history lesson on how having a savings and commercial bank for individual depositors and businesses played a large role in stimulating Japan’s rise as an industrial power during the late 19th century under the Meiji emperor and beyond. This financial foundation helped fuel the resurgence of Japan as an industrial powerhouse after the devastation of World War II.

Barwick and Kotegawa do not discuss how Australia might go about creating a savings and commercial bank from scratch – Citizens Insight / Australian Citizens Party has previously touted the possibility of Australia Post taking on the role of a savings bank in the way the Japanese postal system acts as a savings bank in other presentations – but they do discuss the consequences of not separating savings and commercial banks from investment banking, or what they refer to as “Glass-Steagall” separation. “Glass-Steagall” is the popular term referring to the provisions of the 1933 United States Banking Act (the so-called Glass-Steagall act) separating savings and commercial bank functions from investment bank functions. This act was repealed by the Clinton government in 1999, paving the way for investment banks to take over commercial and savings bank functions to plunder their deposits, thus helping to set the scene for the 2008 Global Financial Crash.

At one point in the interview Barwick and Kotegawa discuss how a public savings bank and investment banks operate: generally investment banks are looking for financial returns which are usually short-term in nature, requiring projects to generate profits quickly, whereas public banks invest for the long term in projects that generate financial returns many years, even decades, later. Such long-term projects usually involve large amounts of spending upfront and tend to involve infrastructure construction and maintenance. It is apparent then that investment banks are not interested in funding projects that have a nation-building and uniting aspect and which would generate benefits more intangible and abstract than what investment banks can conceive of. The interests of investment banks can be predicted to lead them into supporting projects that appeal to their directors or shareholders’ interests, and we can surmise that they will have an agenda premised on immediate reward gratification.

The most significant part of the interview comes late where indeed Kotegawa points out that the lack of separation between savings and commercial banks on the one hand and investment banks on the other encourages financial gambling and instability in the entire financial system leading to the 2008 GFC and forcing governments to bail out investment banks using hundreds of millions, even billions, of taxpayer money that could have been invested in improving infrastructure and social welfare so as not to lose the confidence of ordinary savers and businesses in the financial system. In addition Kotegawa points out that Australia still has significant industries in the mining and agricultural sectors that could benefit from the existence of commercial banks whereas nations like the United States and the United Kingdom no longer have very significant industries for which a viable commercial banking sector is needed.

Viewers may have some trouble understanding Kotegawa while he speaks and perhaps some subtitling for both him and Barwick could have helped as the topic is quite specialised and requires some general knowledge on the part of viewers of how banks operate and the history of banking in Australia and the United States. One criticism I have is that the interview does not address how a public bank in Australia, once established, does not eventually go the way of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in being privatised and coming under the thumb of Wall Street. Perhaps that is a topic for another Citizens Insight interview.

Interestingly this interview caught the attention of African Agenda, a website that focuses on socialist development and positive change for Africa and Africans.

Magnitsky Acts are dangerous laws based on a hoax – Interview with Lucy Komisar: how human rights legislation is being degraded

Glen Isherwood, “Magnitsky Acts are dangerous laws based on a hoax – Interview with Lucy Komisar” (Citizens Insight / Australian Citizens Party, 28 October 2020)

In light of news that politicians Andrew Hastie and Kimberley Kitching are pursuing a bill through the Australian Parliament that would empower Canberra to target and impose sanctions on officials and individuals for supposed human rights abuses – the so-called Magnitsky legislation – Australian Citizens Party researcher Robert Barwick interviews US investigative reporter Lucy Komisar on the work she has done exposing such legislation using supposed human rights abuses to target and blacklist nations such as Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela and set them up for strategic confrontation and regime change. This interview is very detailed if selective (mainly due to time constraints), starting with Komisar’s early work as an investigative journalist and human rights activist across three continents in the 1960s through to the 1980s and then jumping to her work investigating the activities of Bill Browder in Russia through his Hermitage Capital Management Fund in the 1990s to capitalise on the privatisation of Russian state corporations under the Yeltsin presidency.

Taking the form of a conversation in which Barwick allows Komisar to explain at length what Browder did over the 1990s and the early 2000s, setting up shell companies for the purposes of transfer pricing (originally a legitimate practice in which two related companies in different taxation jurisdictions exchange goods and the price at which the exchange takes place is settled by the tax authorities in those jurisdictions according to rules and methods those authorities agree upon; companies may take advantage of such rules and methods to reduce the amount of tax they pay) and taking advantage of and abusing legislation in Kalmykia (an administrative region in Russia where the major ethnic group is Buddhist Kalmyks) in which companies got tax concessions if they employed people with disabilities, the bulk of the interview can sometimes be hard for viewers to follow unless they are already familiar with the history of Browder’s activities and of Magnitsky himself. The truth is Magnitsky was arrested and jailed for tax evasion as Browder’s accountant, and that Browder himself was being pursued by Russian authorities for stealing millions through the shell companies he set up with Magnitsky’s advice and assistance. The notion that Browder and Magnitsky are or were human rights champions keen on uncovering and exposing corruption in Russian politics in the 1990s and beyond – a notion that Browder promoted in the US and the EU, and is now promoting in Australia – proves to be a smokescreen covering up Browder’s own venality which as Komisar explains extends back in time even further than his adventures in Russia with Hermitage Capital Management Fund.

The more interesting part of the interview comes late in its second half when Barwick and Komisar discuss how her submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade – Human Rights Sub-Committee exposing Browder as a human rights fraud and that the Magnitsky sanctions legislation is based on lies was redacted and virtually ignored by the sub-committee. (As a result of her submission, Komisar was accused by Browder of being allied to or working in some capacity for the Russia government.) This leads among other things into a discussion on how the weaponisation of human rights in the form of sanctions legislation can be an attack on the concept of human rights itself, in that sanctioning individuals for supposed human rights crimes makes a mockery of human rights legislation and can be used to attack genuine human rights activists. If the bill backed by Kitching and Hastie were to be passed in Canberra, people targeted by the legislation would have no right of due process if they were to try to challenge it. (Even Australian citizens themselves might fall foul of such legislation, if they were to try to send money or gifts to relatives linked to sanctioned individuals or relatives living countries whose governments have been sanctioned.) The Human Rights Sub-Committee is deliberately ignoring submissions like Komisar’s submission in driving the new Magnitsky sanctions legislation, and the reason for doing so is purely political: to persecute and isolate individuals, organisations and even entire nations that follow policies or agendas that the US, the UK and their allies disagree with. Australia is expected to follow what the US and the UK decree, even at its own expense.

The danger of the West adopting the Magnitsky laws is that they set a dangerous precedent and model for other governments to target the political opposition and dissidents within their own nations. Laws that purport to uphold human rights are instead twisted into laws that degrade human rights. In addition, adopting Magnitsky laws that sanction individuals, organisations and nations when laws already exist to censure such entities can only result in confusion for governments to enforce and for courts to interpret if the new legislation contradicts current legislation.

The interview deserves to be seen at least twice or three times for viewers to understand the danger that passing the Magnitsky sanctions bill in Parliament poses to human rights activists in Australia. Viewers will need to do their own research on Browder and Magnitsky’s activities in Russia in the 1990s and the early 2000s that resulted in Magnitsky’s arrest and imprisonment. The implication that even in death Magnitsky is being used as a pawn by Browder to escape trial and imprisonment and to enrich himself, at the expense of people living in countries targeted by Magnitsky legislation where it has been passed, and of genuine human rights activists, is not lost on viewers. That Bill Browder can continue to cause havoc wherever he goes, and is seemingly unstoppable, given his history, might encourage some viewers to consider that he may be an intelligence asset.

Is China committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims? Interview with Jerry Grey yields intriguing answers

“Is China committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims? Interview with Jerry Grey” (Citizens Insight / Australian Citizens Party, 28 October 2020)

Here is a very fascinating interview conducted by Research Director Robert Barwick of the Australian Citizens Party with British-Australian citizen Jerry Grey who had a varied life as a police officer and security officer who then retrained as a teacher and found a teaching job, initially for a year, in China. Grey enjoyed living in China so much that he ended up staying there permanently, established a charity with his wife whom he met in China, and began travelling around the country. His cycling travels took him to and through Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Grey is thus in a good position to be able to confirm whether the Chinese government has singled out Uyghur Muslim people for discrimination, harassment and incarceration, including incarceration in concentration camps where they are supposedly forced to perform hard labour in factories or on farms. In particular Uyghur Muslims are supposed to be subjected to cultural genocide, being forced to give up their own language and much of their traditional culture and religion.

Grey describes his experiences of travelling and living in Xinjiang with interviewer Robert Barwick, demolishing as he does so the Western propaganda narratives of Uyghur Muslims being singled out for discrimination. Grey gives an example of how such propaganda may be generated in the case of an Albanian journalist who visits a school in China, asks various questions of the teacher in a class, records the teacher’s answers and then returns to Albania to present the Q&A session with his television station employer in such a way as to remove the context in which the teacher replies to the journalist. Of course religion is not taught in school if the school is not a religious school, yet the journalist presents the teacher’s answer of “No’ to suggest that religious education is banned in China. A second example of propaganda misusing information is the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s use of satellite imagery showing large building complexes surrounded by fencing to insinuate that these complexes are concentration camps when in fact the buildings may be senior high schools with boarding facilities or other major institutions. (Later in the interview Barwick notes that ASPI itself is funded by the US government and corporate sources that employ slave labour in the US.) Since Xinjiang region has been experiencing numerous terrorist attacks – in ten years up to 2017, the area suffered 800 deaths from terrorist incidents – many major building complexes now have elaborate security systems and travellers are subjected to many security checks. While the surveillance may be very intrusive, in the context of terrorist incidents occurring in areas as far apart as Xinjiang and Yunnan, the vigilance is often welcomed by local people. Interestingly in Xinjiang region, the police force is made up of Uyghurs themselves.

On the issue of terrorism in Xinjiang, Barwick and Grey discuss Beijing’s response to preventing more terrorist attacks in the form of a massive poverty alleviation scheme which has reached out to the most remote and / or impoverished communities in China and provided them with access to markets, transport and education for their children. Children of senior high school age are enrolled in city schools with boarding facilities (which media sources hostile to China misinterpret, deliberately or otherwise, as concentration camps) where they learn and study the Mandarin language which will enable them to find work in China. The youngsters are allowed to visit their families on weekends and are brought back to school by bus.

Significantly Grey notes there are no Western journalists on the ground in Xinjiang; furthermore most news about Xinjiang appearing in the MSM can be traced back to three sources, all of which source their information from the US State Department, and thus their information is highly suspicious as the US has an interest in destabilising China and breaking it up. One of these three sources often consulted by the Western MSM is German-American Christian fundamentalist theologian Adrian Zenz who believes in The Rapture (when true-believing Christians will be suddenly and physically drawn to Heaven by God and the rest of humanity will burn on Earth) and regards himself as having been appointed by God to pursue and expose China’s supposed crimes. He is a member of a far-right organisation known as Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation which was founded in 1983 by the US government and had a connection to Ukrainian ultra-right nationalist Yaroslav Stetsko, a former associate of Stepan Bandera, former head of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Bandera faction) and a Nazi collaborator during the 1940s. The other sources include the aforementioned ASPI and the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an organisation founded by the US government.

Grey talks about his personal experiences with security in Xinjiang, noting that entry into and exit out of the region is monitored closely by Beijing to the extent that the region is locked down against unauthorised entry by outsiders. He notes that his movements around Xinjiang, which included taking cameras with him, have been unrestricted. People curious about his reasons for travelling around Xinjiang turn out to be generous with their time and hospitality when he tells them; no-one tells him he can or cannot travel to particular parts of Xinjiang.

An interesting detour is taken by Barwick when Grey talks about Uyghur expatriates complaining to mainstream Western media that they are not allowed to contact relatives in Xinjiang: Grey says this happens because the expats have broken Chinese law – which explains why they are expats in the first place (they have fled justice by going overseas and finding asylum as “refugees”). Barwick says many Uyghur organisations in Australia have “East Turkestan” as part of their names; in doing this, they declare themselves to be enemies of China, as “East Turkestan” implies that these organisations are encouraging separatism and working towards breaking Xinjiang away from China.

The interview finishes up with Grey describing his experiences of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic in China. He notes that the Chinese government used the lockdown to mobilise healthcare resources in hospitals, relying on government bureaucrats of all levels to lead the response, and to introduce an effective contact tracing and testing scheme which has resulted in the disease being stopped dead in its tracks early in 2020.

While the interview frequently meandered from one topic to the next, it makes clear that allegations of discrimination, harassment and imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims on the basis of their religion and ethnicity are baseless and are part of an agenda to raise support for a US-led war and possible invasion of China among Western publics. Unfortunately the interview does not clearly identify the main sources of disinformation about China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims (incidentally not all Uyghurs are Muslims and Muslims in China are a highly diverse religious community with the majority of Muslims being Han Chinese themselves) though viewers familiar with the issue will be aware that ultimately the US government and the supposedly humanitarian and human rights NGOs it funds feed these sources and in turn rely on them to spread the propaganda.

It would appear that much Western resentment directed at China’s treatment of its Uyghur population stems from Western awareness that what China is doing for its underprivileged is exactly the programs and policies that Western nations should have pursued for their impoverished minorities. Fake narratives such as the concentration camp narrative feed on real facts and distort them into an evil mirror image that exploits Western public guilt over and horror of Nazi German atrocities and genocides of targeted groups like Jews, Roma and Sinti, Slav peoples, homosexuals and people born with mental and physical disabilities. It can be no coincidence that increasingly Chinese Communists and the former Soviet Union are being equated with Nazi Germany through deliberate distortions of the 20th-century histories of China, Russia and Germany.