Government breaking rules in allowing “Creeping Acquisitions”?
The Rudd Government’s approval of the merger of Westpac and St George will threaten bank competition, leaving Australians at the mercy of the banking giants, as the merger cleared another hurdle today.
“Having Australia’s third largest bank Westpac take over Australia’s fifth largest bank St George will reduce competition, leaving Australian families with fewer choices and banks with greater power,” Family First Leader Senator Steve Fielding said today.
Today, St George shareholders agreed to a merger with Westpac, after the Rudd government gave the go-ahead to the deal.
“This takeover is in addition to a multi-billion dollar bid by Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank to take over BankWest,” Senator Fielding said.
“The big four banks should not be allowed to buy further Australian banks as they are big enough already. Family First shares former ACCC chair Professor Allan Fels’ concern that the ‘Four Pillars Policy’ means ‘the big banks are protected from takeover, but the small players are not.’
“The big four are already big enough and they should not be allowed to become even more dominant. We have seen in the supermarket and the petrol retail market how the commercial drive to get bigger and bigger eventually ends up with dominant players, which results in consumers paying more because of less competition.
“A financial crisis is not the time to cut competition and let the big end of town take more and more because it’s the average Australian family that ends up paying.
“Family First has put forward legislation to stop creeping acquisitions, to stop big businesses crushing competition by making small purchases of companies stealthily here and there, which over time mean they can become dominant forces in a market.”
Coober Pedy Regional Times