Westpac’s woes

To senior people at Westpac the AUSTRAC charges seemed like a minor technical glitch. Instead they’d been handed a grenade which exploded in their faces. The media portrayal has been of greedy bankers who would engage in anything to make a profit. This SMH editorial begins:

    After the royal commission into the financial sector last year, many pundits said that trust in banks could not go any lower. Westpac has proven them wrong.

    Less than a year after Kenneth Hayne delivered his report about rip-offs and illegal sales tactics by Australia’s most profitable financial institutions, Australia’s second largest bank has been pinged for breaches of money laundering and anti-terrorism laws, including facilitating payments to paedophiles in the Philippines.

The actual is a little more prosaic, as the editorial goes on to tell:

    Westpac’s latest failures raise different issues to the Hayne inquiry. This is not a case of bank managers ordering their staff to act unconscionably or flawed incentive payments. Westpac’s crimes here are arguably more those of omission than commission. It failed to implement and check the IT systems required to properly detect and report suspicious transactions. (Emphasis added)

In simple terms, Westpac was offering an international payments system for small amounts. By law all payments, whether suspicious or not, should be reported to the AUSTRAC system. So the 23 million transactions in the frame were simply transactions not reported. Westpac says the majority were pension payments from foreign governments to their citizens who were living in Australia. A second large category was purchases made by Australians of music and real goods from a new breed of international online suppliers. A third category was remittance payments from people from developing countries working here and sending money home to help rellies etc. All this has now stopped because Westpac has shut the facility down.

Each and every one of the 23 million unreported transactions attract a civil penalty of between $17 million and $21 million, we are told. The activity or artefact being paid for has no relevance as such.

So, what has AUSTRAC got in terms of unsavoury behaviour? The SMH article Westpac accused of 23 million breaches by money laundering watchdog says:

    AUSTRAC alleges that Westpac’s systems were used by 12 individuals to conduct almost 3000 transactions that were indicative of the patterns employed by people suspected to be involved in child exploitation. Included in this cohort was a customer with a prior conviction for child exploitation offences. One of the 12 Westpac customers allegedly made transfers totalling $132,000 including to a person in the Philippines who “was later arrested in November 2015 for child trafficking and child exploitation involving live streaming of child sex shows and offering children for sex”.

    Other customers allegedly transferred large sums in manners which were allegedly indicative of child exploitation – including $75,000 for one customer, $62,000 for another.

    All up, AUSTRAC alleges 2944 transactions totalling $480,000 that were indicative of child exploitation payments made by the 12 Westpac customers.

The problematic offences appear to be a pay-for-view exercise to watch unspeakable things happening to children in the Philippines, filmed and made available to the world. It is unlikely that the payments were made directly to the miscreants offering the service, but were masked in some way to look innocent.

I think that is all AUSTRAC has got specifically, and clearly it goes back to before 2015, indeed as far back as 2013. Of course it is a fair bet that some of the other 22,997,056 transactions were unsavoury. And it’s a fair bet that the unsavoury activity will continue, with payment effected by other means. Apart from banks, apparently there are now 15,000 entities out there set up to service this international payments market. My guess is that many are non-compliant and AUSTRAC simply does not have the resources to round them up.

At this point I’ll say that I’ve read and heard endless accounts from so-called experts, most of whom take a narrow and incomplete view, and include information which conflicts with other accounts or simply do not make sense. No-one, it seems, has the full facts on this case, and I’m not sure that a legal charge is the best way of finding out. The case will likely be settled out of court. Westpac are commissioning their own ‘independent’ inquiry by an external expert.

Westpac has no chance of winning the case, because they have already self-reported their non-compliance. The full penalty is by my calculator $460 trillion (million million), but one AFR writer said over $40 trillion. So whether it’s a mere 20 times Australia’s GDP or 200 times does not much matter. Both are ludicrous. Given that the Commonwealth Bank was pinged $700 million for 53,506 actual cases of people stuffing banknotes into ATMs, word is that the penalty will be a bit over a billion as against Westpac’s profit of $6.85 billion. Unless the authorities decide they want to kill the bank.

Back on the reporting, there has been an endless queue of experts, some of whom clearly have no idea of the detailed facts of the case, and many have little or no idea of what is involved in running a large organisation. The latter is especially true of the press and legal people, but also seems to apply to people who are seriously regarded as experts in corporate responsibility.

So I too cannot be confident I have the correct story. I’ll give you some of the sources I found better than most, and then outline what I think happened in general terms and where the problems lie. The answers affect our reputation and competence as a trading nation in the modern world.

Beyond the two SMH articles linked above the pick of those freely available were Nathan Lynch’s blog post Swerving SWIFT: the story behind Westpac’s money-laundering calamity and Phillip Adams’ interview with Louis de Koker, Professor of law at La Trobe Law School.

ABC RN’s The Money program on Westpac featured interviews with Nathan Lynch, Manager, Regulatory Intelligence, Asia-Pacific, Thomson Reuters, John Chivas, advisor for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Programme Against Money Laundering (GPML), and Ian Verrender, ABC Business Editor.

Julian Bajkowski’s article Westpac busted 23m times over epic money tracking system failure at itnews is a must-read for the information technology dimension.

Following are some of the dozens of articles in the AFR:

Back in 2010 legislation was passed which made banks transform themselves into active crime intelligence gathering agents. Now it seems that the expectation is for them to decide what is legal activity, what is not, and to take action to shut the miscreants down. I’m not sure this is a proper role for the banks. Mastercard and Visa decided they weould no longer allow donations to Wikileaks at one stage. After three years of legislation they found that denying payments to Wikileaks was not their decision to make..

From the outset Westpac used technology in 2010 that failed to report the transactions to two correspondent banks, one of which accounted for 99% of the transactions Westpac failed to report. Westpac never tried to hide anything and self-reported these transactions. However, the charge sheet says that Westpac failed to retain records of some 3.5 million transaction records from this time. It seems the software destroyed them.

However, for some reason Westpac failed to fix the problem.

Back in the day, AUSTRAC was a tame regulator who worked with the bank to correct problems of this kind. While you were talking to AUSTRAC, you had nothing to fear about the penalties.

AUSTRAC prefers banks to use SWIFT software for reporting. Working out of Belgium SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) handles about half of the $200 billion worth of transactions each day. However, some banks find other software solutions which are thought to be cheaper.

Westpac’s problems go back to the Gail Kelly era, who retired in February 2015, handing over to Brian Hartzer. In August 2016 Westpac introduced the LitePay software package for small transactions, using ‘Australasian Cash Management’ (ACM) for larger payments. The latter, according to AUSTRAC, is also highly problematic, allowing large sums to enter the country unawares in money laundering. In fact problems with ACM appear to be what the AUSTRAC charge is mainly about, as paedophilia payments only come up towards the end. However, less attention has been paid to the main financial problem because of the gut-churning nature of the child exploitation cases.

On LitePay, a Westpac officer noticed in February 2017 that AUSTRAC notifications were not happening. However, no action was taken. There is a story that a junior officer merely filled out a Suspicious Matter Report form and filed it.

Meanwhile AUSTRAC had changed from its softly, softly approach:

    after the appointment of former CEO Paul Jevtovic in 2014, a former AFP commissioner who was behind the regulator’s landmark cases against Tabcorp and CBA – another bank that claimed it was caught completely off guard by AUSTRAC’s changed approach.

    “I will be merciless for those who recklessly or through indifference don’t meet their obligations,” Jevtovic told the Financial Review in his first major interview.

The Tabcorp case broke in February 2017, the CBA in August 2017.

Then in December 2017 Jevtovic finished up and Nicole Rose took over:

    who colleagues say worked most closely with and modelled herself most on NSW’s former top cop Andrew Scipione, has completed a major overhaul of the once sleepy regulator that has become an enforcement agency to be reckoned with.

    Insiders say the “dirty money” regulator has transformed from bureaucrats, accountants and lawyers attached to the Attorney-General’s Department to police and enforcement agents linked to Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs.

Yet from December 2016 to June 2018 Board chair Lindsay Marxted says that no information at all drifted up to general managers, group executives, or the board about the transaction reporting issue. This is hard to believe, but if true indicates major dysfunctions in management.

CEO Brian Hartzer claims that he first found out about the bank’s possible involvement in child exploitation on the day AUSTRAC lodged its statement of claim, whereupon he closed the specific accounts within days. Yet AUSTRAC’s statement of claim says:

    “In June 2016, senior management within Westpac was specifically briefed on these (child exploitation) risks with respect to the LitePay channel.”

There was a flurry of activity in Westpac when the Commonwealth Bank story broke in August 2017 but by December 2018 Westpac revealed in its annual report that it was in discussions with AUSTRAC after self-reporting its failure to report a large number of transactions in its institutional bank.

Here’s one timeline, which is far from complete:

I’ll just highlight this:

    Early the next year, in February 2019, the board admits its efforts have been held back by a lack of focus, lack of accountability and tribal divisions within the bank (which the bank confessed to in its self-assessment). They hurry to endorse Mr Stephen’s Financial Crime Strategic plan.

Meanwhile the known issues in its Incident Management System, JUNO, kept rising, from 43 in late 2017 to 116 in June 2019. That is in spite of Westpac changing its crime payments detection framework seven times.

Westpac was not knowingly presiding over stomach-churning practices, prioritising profit at any cost. It was trying and failing to fix a systemic reporting fault. Over the last three years it has doubled the number of people working in the financial crime division to 750, with an extra 200 to now come on board next year. It is said that CBA has 1500. I have no idea what these people do to fill their day, but I’ve collected titles mentioned in various stories:

  • Chief risk officer
  • Chief compliance officer
  • General Manager, Global Transaction Services
  • global head of financial crime
  • General manager, Operational Risk
  • Head of financial crime compliance
  • group money laundering reporting officer

In the middle of all that swill is the story of Amanda Wood, who joined Westpac in May 2017 from Commonwealth Bank, where she was head of financial crime compliance. Prior to that she had worked as general manager of compliance at AUSTRAC for seven years and seven months. Prior to that she had been a Treasury official and ministerial adviser in the Howard Coalition government. Well-regarded in the industry, she was:

    joint chairman of the Fintel Alliance Experts Group, an AUSTRAC committee of private companies, intelligence and law enforcement agencies that share information and expertise.

    Over the past year the alliance has contributed to the arrest of nine of Australia’s most wanted criminals and increased detection of suspected child sexual exploitation by 580 per cent, AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose said three weeks ago.

For over 10 months she was Westpac’s money-laundering reporting officer, had led the bank’s response to the AUSTRAC investigation, working with managers from the global transaction services business to understand what happened and provide explanations to AUSTRAC in person and in writing.

In May 2019 AUSTRAC met with the Board in what was effectively the final warning to impress Westpac that if they didn’t clean up their act the result was not going to be pretty.

A decision to replace Wood had been made prior to the meeting. She was not invited, and 30 minutes later was told that she would no longer continue in her job because they wanted a money-laundering reporting officer who had more international experience. So, managing a group of 50, she would now be heading a group of 10 still working on policy and communication with regulators. She was replaced by T. Scott Saunders, formerly head of compliance at Macquarie Group, who would be given the title ‘global head of financial crime’.

Wood took a redundancy package, set up a consultancy, and has now said she is more than happy to talk about her Westpac experience. In brief she is saying that Hartcher never understood the importance of universal record reporting, saw Westpac’s problems as a technical glitch which would be fixed in due course, and was more concerned about his status and how things looked rather than actually getting the problem sorted.

So when the sh*t hit the fan he said “This isn’t Enron” and, like Steve Smith and David Warner of cricket ball-tampering fame, thought the whole thing would be yesterday’s news within a week.

Hartcher and Marxted were actually told they had to go by a woman no-one imagined had that power. She was head of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ASCI), Louise Davidson. She met with Marxsted at her Lonsdale Street offices in Melbourne on the Monday after the story broke, making it clear the proposed Westpac response wasn’t going to cut it. If superannuation funds started selling everyone would head for the exits and the bank would cease to exist.

ACSI collectively represent industry super funds, now worth $700 billion, on environmental, social and governance issues. Davidson, the AFR tells us, has impeccable personal integrity. She:

    has also realigned the ACSI organisation which in the wake of the GFC primarily focused on CEO and executive pay. Davidson has made gender diversity, climate change and human rights her hallmark.

In this case she has drawn a line Westpac must observe if it is to retain its social licence. Davidson effectively represent shareholders who are investors in industry super funds.

I think Westpac needs advice on organisational design and rather basic management practice. However, in conducting its own investigation it has in fact seen the issue as technology-based by appointing Promontory, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM to find out what went wrong.

Eyebrows have been raised because in the 1990s Westpac outsourced its IT functions to IBM.

Ironically, it could be the way to go. I’m guessing here, but when organisations outsource a major function they often lose the exopertise to make appropriate decisions in that sphere. It seems inconceivable that Westpac could not find a software solution that would fulfil their reporting obligations – for 10 years.

As it happens an IT startup called Identitii developed a program that could sit on top of legacy software and effect the required report of each transaction. Identitii developed the product through a trial with Macquarie Bank, Standard Chartered, JPMorgan, Rabobank, Barclays and Westpac. AFR’s Tony Boyd understands the trial was essentially a great success, but when they approached Marxted in July 2017 and again in September 2018 nothing happened. I’d suggest this is what what you get when (a) there is no-one of status with IT knowledge to talk to, and/or (b) you mistakenly think the chairman of the board is actually involved in running the bank.

The Identitii software would have cost about $20 million, which may have seemed a lot at the time, but now estimates suggest the bank will have to spend several hundred millions to extract itself from the mess. Hindsight is wonderful.

Discussion

The first issue for me is about the handling of the information on the paedophiles. AUSTRAC identified the accounts and made judgement about what was going on. I’m asking whether the first move should be to notify the police, and then let them decide with the bank when the accounts should be closed. The police need to assess when they have specific information on which to base charges. AUSTRAC had 23 million examples of Westpac not performing its legal reporting obligations. Each was as bad as the other as far as the law was concerned.

Secondly, I wonder about the appropriateness of fining the bank $17 to $20 million for each breach. One group only will pay the fines – the shareholders. Westpac’s dividends have been flat since 2015-16. Before all this happened dividends were forecast to reduce by 20 per cent over the next three years.

Contrary to what you will have heard from politicians who should know better, when the Reserve Bank reduces interest rates, the banks’ net interest differential narrows. That is what bank analysts tell shareholders. What banks do is split the pain between the borrowers and the shareholders. Westpac will now pay more for its money because lending to Westpac involves increased risk. The increase is reckoned to be 10 to 15 basis points. Not a lot, but again the shareholders and borrowers are likely to pay.

My default position has been that the officers within the bank responsible should be charged, even jailed for criminal acts or criminal negligence. Nathan Lynch in ABC RN’s The Money program linked above said the current laws could be applied to bring penalties against individual actors within corporations, but the practice had been not to do so. This would be done by the police or other regulators rather than AUSTRAC. Indeed all regulators, such as Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), Ausatralian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) are now taking an interest. Unluckily for Westpac, the bank has only just undertaken a capital raising, which requires full disclosure of potential risks. There may be scope for a class action on behalf of investors who took up share offers which are now worth significantly less than they paid.

For all its laws and regulators, Australia has a lousy reputation for anti-crime financial governance. We rank well below countries we like to compare ourselves with, ranking with Madagascar and Haiti, whatever that means. Stephen Letts article Westpac’s cloak of invisibility has not just bankrolled paedophiles, but appears to support a massive tax dodge too suggests we are well set up to facilitate tax evasion.

Brand reputation

There is no doubt the the AUSTRAC case will cost Westpac business. There is talk of large government contracts worth hundreds of millions moving to other banks when they are up for renewal.

As it happened, just two days after the AUSTRAC scandal broke the finance industry held its annual B&T Awards night. Westpac did well, carrying off three gongs, including “best marketer of the year”. It was all very awkward on the night, because the awards had been decided earlier before the AUSTRAC intervention became public.

On the night there was palpable awkwardness and no speeches from Westpac award winners. The best advice appears to be that Westpac would be wasting its money advertising in the next while. The suggestion is that they have a chat with Volkswagen, who apologised copiously after the 2015 scandal, put their heads down and gradually rebuilt trust. Four years later they have regained their position as a top brand.

So far Westpac has not apologised.

However, Australia needs to build trust in its financial system. The Greens are pushing for legislation (AFR article, probably pay-walled) to provide mandatory reporting of suspicious activity by real estate agents, accountants and lawyers, where the sums of dirty money being moved dwarf the Westpac paedophilia payments. Apparently such legislation was drafted out of the Hayne royal commission, but has been stalled because of lobbying about the need to retain client confidentiality.

Like climate change, corporate lobbying looks like putting us at the bottom of the class.

25 thoughts on “Westpac’s woes”

  1. Brian: When you have a government that harshly penalizes whistle blowers that divulge illegal activities or simple incompetence there is a problem that should end up with the jailing of those that introduced the cover-up legislation and suitable punishment for those who acted illegally or instructed that someone acted illegally.
    There can be a similar problem in businesses. How does a business treat those who point out that the company is doing something wrong or stupid or…. particularly when the current boss was involved with the wrong activity before the promotion? And when people see what happens to those who are silly enough to uncover the bosses stuff-ups what do they do?
    Was Westpac’s failing that it didn’t have people responsible for finding problems like the one it has now, didn’t give those people the resources needed to find the problem or simply shut them up when they did find something?
    Organizations need people who have the power and interest to burrow down and find things that are going on or to say NO to activities that should be changed. They should have iron clad contracts or simply be people of good character who had stopped chasing promotions and had enough money not to be concerned with early retirement. Even better they may have contracts where they are protected from legal attack if they go public when a business is found to be acting illegally and won’t do anything about it.

  2. Brian:

    Hartcher and Marxted were actually told they had to go by a woman no-one imagined had that power. She was head of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ASCI), Louise Davidson. She met with Marxsted at her Lonsdale Street offices in Melbourne on the Monday after the story broke, making it clear the proposed Westpac response wasn’t going to cut it. If superannuation funds started selling everyone would head for the exits and the bank would cease to exist.

    (i.e. The Super Funds had the power to get rid of Hartcher. However, superannuation funds are part of the sickness. As you noted they collectively have enough power to get rid of CEO’s who aren’t creating “shareholder wealth” and the funds have a very short term focus because people make decisions re which super funds to invest in on the basis of recent performance.
    This creates an environment where CEO’s may risk the company and ignore long term problems because they won’t be around to get any credit if their short term share performance doesn’t meet shareholder and super fund expectations.
    Back in the olden days BHP CEO’s were there until they retired. Many of them had come up through a development plan that included time in departments such as safety dept’s. They understood more than balance sheets. What happened in the long term was a key part of their responsibility.
    I want bank CEO’s that are about creating solid, reliable first class banks, not something that behaves like Westpac or many other leading businesses.
    One of the ironies I have noted is that statuary mine mangers can go to jail for safety breaches while mine and bank CEO’s face no such risk.

  3. Just for perspective purposes, since 1817, how much help has Westpac ( present title) provided compared to harm.

    I’m of the opinion they’re massively in the net positive and improving incrementally.

  4. Someone pointed out to me today that Hartzer did not have a strong career in banking, and was basically a consultant, a class that my informer, with deep executive business experience, regarded as useless.

    Wikipedia says he graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in European history and began his career as a consultant at First Manhattan Consulting Group.

    Tony Boyd in his AFR Chanticleer column today says:

    Judging from the world’s most civilised social media platform, LinkedIn, former Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer was an inspirational leader, genuine, caring and a person with enormous integrity, courage and values.

    As well as these comments by Hartzer’s former staff and some outside the bank who have worked with him, LinkedIn in the past few days has highlighted his contribution to a range of pressing social issues including climate change and reconciliation.

    There is no doubt Westpac leads Australia, or is in the top five, in just about every measure of sustainability including support for human rights, sustainable lending, carbon mitigation and social impact through corporate donations and staff volunteering.

    Boyd gives him a mixed assessment. The bank was a large and complex organisation. Boyd thinks he fixed some things, but on the bottom line, Westpac was the worst of the big four. Boyd says:

    Lack of investment in systems over 20 years left the bank vulnerable to technology disruption and poorly prepared to respond to changing consumer behaviour.

    This supports my notion that the IBM move left them clueless on technology.

    Bob Joss, who rescued Westpac in the 1990s, says he knows both Hartzer and Marksted and reckons the both had the ability to fix this mess if they’d been given the chance. However, he emphasised the importance of risk management. This one simply got under their guard and was never given the priority it should have had.

    I’d have to say I’m uncomfortable with Louise Davidson having the power of execution, as it were. It seems a bit like a kangaroo court.

  5. John, I’m not as negative as you are about the impact of super funds. Industry funds in particular have been consistent performers over the years, and you can’t do that if your focus is short term.

    However, on CEOs and senior people in public companies, I’d prefer it if owning shares was verboten, as it must lead to short-termism, and can be seen as a conflict of interest.

  6. Jumpy, I’d agree with your long-term assessment. And I think some of the disrupters currently being touted will end in tears. However, I should have included Patrick Durkin’s article Real estate agents, lawyers and accountants to avoid money laundering laws.

    I mentioned in the post that real estate agents, lawyers and accountants did not have to report suspicious transactions. We are dragging the chain internationally , “following a highly critical report from the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which warned three years ago that Australia’s real estate sector was at significant risk for money laundering.”

    That was October 2018, but I believe the situation has not changed. The article said:

    The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) estimates organised crime costs the Australian community $36 billion each year and “the most common professions exploited by organised crime include lawyers, accountants, financial and tax advisers, registered migration agents, stockbrokers, real estate agents and customs brokers,” their report said.

    The UK, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia are among others to also introduce laws to cover the sectors.

    Anti-money laundering experts have warned that failing to crack down on the illicit flow of funds, including “hot money” from China, has added significantly to Australia’s housing affordability problem.

    Unfortunately, that is what the outrage should be about.

    It’s sad, but no Filipino child will be saved by what Westpac did or didn’t do, or paying the government a billion dollars.

  7. Suspicious transactions include but are not limited to payments for the sexual exploitation of children.

    The policing net is trying to catch or stymie international crime syndicates, transfers to/from terrorist groups, Australian criminals, money laundering, etc.

    You know, like the ATO does with dodgy tax evading overseas transactions.

    Or like Australian Customs has questions on arrival and departure forms about carrying cash into or out of the country.

    Since part of bank profits have been based on heavy IT operations, I reckon compliance with all auditing, reporting and tax laws would be a First Priority.

    After that, a bank might make honest and helpful dealings with customers its Second Priority.

    Boasting about how they help small businesses and home purchasers could come in at about Tenth Priority.

    But what would I know??

    Ambi
    Black Armband View of the Banking Royal Commission
    Black Armband View of the Trade Union Royal (get Bill and Julia) Commission

  8. Taken overall the Roman Empire did far more good than harm.
    But that doesn’t make Caligula and Nero good people.
    I had been banking with the Wales for more than twenty years when it combined with the Commercial Bank of Australia to form Westpac in 1982.
    The new entity treated me differently. For me its practices became more grasping and predatory until, fed up, I moved my accounts to a credit union, which gave me service similar to that I had previously received from the Bank of New South Wales.
    Long story short I think Westpac is a different entity from the Bank of New South Wales and as such does not deserve any kudos (nor any blame) for what the Wales may have done in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

  9. I’d have to say Westpac some years ago kept pushing me to increase the limit on my credit card, while at Suncorp, where I also have an account, I had to ask them, and then they put me through the hoops to prove I had a regular income.

    Apart from that I’ve had no reason to want to change and as I said, I’ve always found them courteous and helpful. I’d agree, though, we live in the present and look to the recent past as a guide to the future rather than the distant past.

    Ambi, they say suspicious transactions are 2-5%, which seems on the high side to me.

  10. zoot on the Ronan Empire…. A good analogy.

    I want the big banks to do better because, yes Mr J, they are useful public institutions.

    Here’s another analogy.
    I take the car to a mechanic.
    I tell her I think the diff’s playing up on me.
    She says, “Don’t you acknowledge that this vehicle has given you thousands of wonderful driving kilometres, taken you to places public transport can’t reach, carried you in warmth and comfort in all weather? Where’s your sense of gratitude?”

    I thank her for her remarks and take the car elsewhere.
    It was only the diff needed attention, as far as I could make out.

    (In fact, I did value that vehicle. That’s why I chose to have it repaired instead of selling it.)

  11. Mr A
    Ok let’s play with that presumably made up analogy.

    Should that Mechanic decide that the driver may be involved in suspicious activity ( a bag of weed in the glove box ) and be jailed for not reporting it to “ authorities “ ?
    I realise they are a billion infringements of law, and a compound increase because that’s what politicians do.
    Businesses have already been made tax collectors, should they become police as well ?
    Is it an admission that the legislature is swamping the enforcement ?

    Should the above mentioned Mechanic be in the right to refuse service if they arbitrarily suspect the customer may be, kinda, sort of a bit suss then be hit with a discrimination charge ?

    The guts of the issue is the level of policing of law that a private enterprise is forced to do under the horse shit “ duty of care “ mentality, that makes everyone involved culpable for individual transgressions.
    Collective guilt, you didn’t build that, collective rubbish.

  12. Jumpy, it was way back in the 1980s when mandatory reporting was brought in for teachers who noticing suspected abuse. It was simply a reporting function. Through the principal the police had to be notified.

    This did not mean that the teachers had to act as police, or indeed as social workers or counsellors.

    I believe similar reporting obligations have been instituted in other caring professions.

    I have no difficulty with banks being obliged to report transactions and would rather that the judgements about the legality of suspicious transactions were made by people competent legally with a socially sanctioned head of power.

    I’m not sure how these principles apply to a mechanic noticing weed in the glove box. My default position is that the mechanics brief is to fix the car, and I would be cautious about extending that further.

  13. Last I looked she didn’t need to open the glove box to fix the diff. I usually store my weed inside the hubcaps anyway. It stays too clean in the glovebox. I prefer that tar and exhaust fume tang. It’s a Collingwood thing.

    The analogy was meant as a gentle riposte to your remarks about the banks having been Faithful Servants of the Young Colonies, Developers of Agriculture, Commerce, Manufacturing and Mining, Nursemaids of Young Cities, Pioneers of Accountancy, and General Economic Powerhouses with no thought to their own profits or wellbeing*

    * is that enough, Ootz, or must I really try harder to give proper praise where it is merited??

    The Medici family in old Florence etc. really set the ball rolling in spectacular fashion, but they were intelligent, strategic, arithmetically competent, and had very good Church and Princely connections, so I hear.

    The Gnomes of Zurich are perhaps their modern counterparts? Or were until recent decades…..

  14. Jumpy: What businesses and individuals should be “required to report” is a tricky business. For an individual, there may not be a good match between “required” and “inclined”. Some of us may not be inclined to report the activities of the bikie gang next door or things that are going to result in spending time as a witness in court, facing damage claims etc. etc.
    Having said that I think there is a case for banks to report transactions that have characteristics that hint of money laundering etc.
    I am sure you can think of other examples. think of things like “suspected of being a Get-up supporter” once Scott Morrison gets the laws he wants to remove threats to the party in place.

  15. Next you lot will be claiming forcing doctors to report notifiable diseases is not an unconscionable invasion of our privacy and a crushing restriction on our freedom ®.

  16. Oh yeah, exactly, good point zoot.
    Everyone can clearly see that the pandemics of liberty and responsibility must be stopped by Government fiat.

    I must, from this point on, as a business owner, alert Ingsoc like a Charrington or off to Room 101 for me.

  17. It sounds like Jumpy needs a safe space. But wouldn’t that infringe my freedom of speech?

    It’s obviously a rhetorical question but to avoid another Jumpy threadjacking, any replies should be posted on a Weekly Salon.

  18. There is no legislated freedom of speech in this Country.
    Only legislative restrictions and compulsions, like the compulsions Westpac is enduring right now.

    So toddle off to the WS with your usual irrelevant shite with my enthusiastic encouragement.

  19. Brian

    My default position is that the mechanics brief is to fix the car, and I would be cautious about extending that further.

    Fair enough.
    The mechanic shouldn’t be obligated to delve into the ownership of the car, what it’s used for or guess the motivations of the driver.

  20. There is no legislated freedom of speech in this Country.

    My humble apologies, I didn’t realise that only legislated freedom of speech has any value.
    Good thing we’ve got a government to legislate it.

  21. Just to clarify, I will argue in favour of Jumpy’s freedom of speech whether it’s legislated or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *