Bank accounts have become an indispensable part of daily life and business operations in modern-day Australia. It is crucial to guarantee law-abiding individuals and businesses access to these essential banking services, safeguarding them against the practice of "off-boarding."
In response to former United Kingdom MP Nigel Farage's recent revelation about his bank accounts being closed, our leader Senator Pauline Hanson shed light on the fact that "off-boarding" - the termination of bank accounts that require additional scrutiny for various reasons - is already an established practice in Australia.
Senator Hanson stated, "Banks and other reporting entities in Australia are legally obligated to have an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) program. As part of these programs, they identify 'politically-exposed persons' (PEPs) who may be at a higher risk of illicit financial activities such as money laundering or bribery. These customers are subjected to 'ongoing customer due diligence' (OCDD) systems and controls."
It is understandable that enhanced monitoring of these accounts comes with increased costs for banks, which may be tempted to close them as a result. Unfortunately, such actions are already taking place in Australia, with customers like gun shops and medicinal cannabis businesses experiencing "off-boarding" without any explanation other than a letter and a cheque to close their accounts.
Operating a business or even conducting everyday transactions in Australia becomes virtually impossible without access to basic banking services. Therefore, it is essential that law-abiding individuals and businesses have guaranteed access to these services, particularly from banks or financial institutions covered by the Australian Government's Financial Claims Scheme (FCS).
This guarantee should also protect against "off-boarding" motivated by political or ideological considerations. Banks and financial institutions that aim to align with social justice activists may be tempted to terminate accounts that do not meet the activists' approval. However, if taxpayers are guaranteeing the deposits under the FCS, it is incumbent upon the banks to ensure the provision of essential banking services.
Safeguarding access to essential banking services for all law-abiding individuals and businesses is crucial to maintaining a fair and inclusive financial system. By addressing the issue of "off-boarding" and providing the necessary guarantees, we can ensure that Australians have reliable and uninterrupted access to the banking services they depend on.