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Little 'stands by his threats to stiff-arm the banks'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Andrew Little.
Andrew Little.

Labour leader Andrew Little told TV One’s Q+A programme that he stands by his threats to ‘stiff-arm’ the banks into passing OCR cuts on to customers.

‘I stand by the stance I took, which is to get very heavy-handed with the banks. Because the truth is when the banks fail to follow the signal that the Reserve Bank is sending, that’s keeping money out of the back pockets of ordinary Kiwis, and I will always fight for their interests and for their rights. If the banks don’t want to play ball when it comes to the way we run our monetary policy, actually, there’s only one outfit that can really take them on, and that’s the government.’

But Mr Little wouldn’t be drawn on whether his position was pre-planned policy.

JESSICA Threatening to legislate, though, is that something that you’d been planning on speaking out for a long time? Is that something that you guys had had discussions on?

ANDREW No, it was about sending a signal--

JESSICA So you hadn’t formulated this policy?

ANDREW It’s about sending a signal that when one of our most important measures we have - one of the very few measures that the government or a government agency has to assist the economy as it’s slowing down, get a bit of impetus going - and the overseas-owned trading banks just cock a snook at it, you actually do have to respond. The government should’ve responded.

JESSICA But my question is - is this a policy you had been looking at for a long time?

ANDREW The approach that I will take and in fact was signalling in that statement is that we’re not going to accept it if the trading banks want to come here, not follow the signals that the Reserve Bank is sending. Because that starts to undo one of the fundamental basis of our economic system. We want to run monetary policy. That’s what we give the Reserve Bank the job to do. If the trading banks don’t want to play ball, then you’ve got to get heavy-handed with them.

JESSICA Not answering the question makes me feel like it isn’t something you’ve been looking at for a long time. Were you caught out on this policy a little bit?

ANDREW I think what some people might be having difficulty coming to grips with is that I believe that a government is there to govern, that when the interests of ordinary New Zealanders are put at risk because, in this case, a bunch of corporates decided they just don’t care about it and they want to maximise their profit, actually, the role of government is to govern and make sure things are happening in the best interest of New Zealanders. And I don’t shrink from that at all, and somebody’s got to be the voice for that, and I’m happy to be it.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1. Repeated Sunday evening at 11:35pm. Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz

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