The Senate inquiry into the Morrison government’s totalitarian cash ban bill is due to hand down its report in just over three weeks. Barring some extraordinary development, Morrison can then be expected to move for a vote in the Senate. If the Labor Party supports it, the bill will pass; if Labor opposes it, we can stop this law that has only one purpose—to trap people in banks.
For the next three weeks, everyone who opposes the cash ban must call all Labor MPs and Senators to demand they oppose this law. (Go to the new dedicated website stopthecashban.com.au for instructions and contact details, and share it with as many people as you can.)
Whatever the Senate report says, the facts are clear:
- Treasury has zero evidence that this law will combat the black economy of tax evasion and money laundering. This became crystal clear in the first public hearing in December, under pointed questioning by Labor Senator Alex Gallacher and Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick.
- The Morrison government is not serious about ending real tax evasion and money laundering by the banks and big end of town. If they were, they would crack down on tax evasion that is facilitated by the corrupt Big Four global accounting firms including KPMG, the architect of this cash ban law. And they would legislate to make real estate agents, accountants and lawyers comply with anti-money laundering (AML) disclosures—sectors such as real estate are known for serious money laundering, but the Morrison government protects it.
- The only beneficiaries of the cash ban will (as usual) be the only constituency Scott Morrison cares about—the banks. Australians will be forced to use the banking system for everything, and will be unable to escape negative interest rates and the “bail-in” policy of stealing deposits to prop up banks when they are in danger of failing.
- There are numerous reasons cash use should not be curtailed, not least of which has just been exposed by the bushfire crisis—in a natural disaster, when electricity and internet infrastructure fails, only cash works for transactions. If the government and Labor were genuine about representing the needs of the Australian people, this experience alone would be enough to kill off this bill.
This week, there has been some important media coverage of the cash ban, by ABC and Business Insider. ABC’s Nassim Khadem on 13 January reported on the first round of public hearings in December, noting Treasury’s admission that the government’s evidence for this law was only “anecdotal”.
ABC highlighted the Reserve Bank of Australia’s testimony that claims the cash ban was intended to make negative interest rates work were “far-fetched”. Business Insider’s Jack Derwin also emphasised the RBA’s denials, which came in response to committee chair Senator Slade Brockman asking the RBA to answer the commentary that “this bill is somehow linked to the idea of a bank bail-in, the imposition of negative interest rates”. (Brockman didn’t say so, but that commentary has come from independent economist John Adams and banking expert Martin North on their Interest Of The People YouTube channel, and the Citizens Party.)
In response, the RBA tried to cover up this agenda. “With respect, I think some of those concerns that you’ve alluded to are a little far-fetched”, RBA head of payment policy Tony Richards told the hearing.
The problem for the RBA and Treasury is that contrary to Business Insider’s characterisation of the claims as a conspiracy theory, it is the International Monetary Fund that is openly saying cash must be restricted to make negative interest rates work. Australia’s financial authorities want to downplay negative interest rates, but they can’t rule them out.
As Business Insider reported: “RBA governor Philip Lowe, for his part, has previously stressed the prospect of negative interest rates is pretty unlikely, although maintained that all economic tools were on the table. At any rate, Richards noted that nations overseas that have introduced a negative official cash rate have not charged negative interest on savings. ‘There are almost no examples of negative interest rates for household deposits in those few countries that have had negative policy rates’, he said.”
As it happens there are several examples of negative interest rates being charged on retail bank deposits, in Germany and Denmark, and banks in Finland are looking to follow suit. And that’s with negative interest rates not far below zero. If interest rates go as deep as -4 per cent as the IMF has foreshadowed, however, all retail banks deposits will be charged negative interest rates. For the RBA to pretend that isn’t happening around the world, and that it isn’t a possibility here, is an attempt to cover up the real agenda behind this law.
With just three weeks to go to stop this law being passed in the February sitting of Parliament, we must call all Labor MPs and Senators to demand they oppose it. If Labor votes no, it can be stopped. Demand the Labor MPs and Senators look at Treasury’s pathetic testimony to the Senate hearing in which they admit they have no evidence of the need for this law, and tell them to talk to their own colleague, SA Labor Senator Alex Gallacher, whose sharp questioning forced Treasury to make this admission.
A second public hearing is scheduled for Sydney on 30 January. The venue hasn’t yet been announced, but when it is we’ll publicise it so as many people as possible in and around Sydney can attend, and demonstrate to the Senators the depth of public opposition to the government ramming through yet another law that benefits banks and strips away the rights of Australians.
What you can do:
- Take the time over the next three weeks to call as many Labor Party MPs and Senators as you can, to make sure they see Treasury’s admission to the Senate hearing that there’s no evidence for this law, and to tell them the other facts listed above. Go to stopthecashban.com.au for instructions and contact details.
- Make plans to attend the second public hearing on the cash ban bill in Sydney on 30 January.
Click here for copies of the new “Fight the totalitarian ban on cash!” flyer to distribute.