World finance :: Earnings, Stock markets and Financial industry

Anz ceo shayne elliot faces parliamentary inquiry into banking system


ANZ boss Shayne Elliott has admitted to a parliamentary committee that changes in the cash rate were only one ingredient in setting interest rates for home loans.

Australian banks did not have sufficient deposits to fund the demand for borrowing, and were required to source funds from both domestic and international capital markets at competitive rates.

So when the RBA changes rates it directly impacts some but not all of our funding cost, Mr Elliott told the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra on Wednesday.

A new analysis by the Swinburne University of Technology found if the big banks manage to postpone a 25 basis point rate cut in their mortgage interest rates by 10 days, as an example, they can potentially each make an extra $16-26 million in profits.

If some of our cost of funds goes down, the longer we delay, clearly that is to the advantage of the bank, Mr Elliott admitted.

The International Monetary Fund expects interest rates in most parts of the world wont be rising anytime soon, including in Australia.


Earlier today, the only woman on federal parliaments house economics committee took the ANZ boss to task over blokey bank culture, pointing to her own struggle to get a home loan.

New Liberal MP Julia Banks questioned Shayne Elliotts commitment to the group Male Champions of Change during a hearing into the four big banks in Canberra on Wednesday.

Have you taken on the mantle of your predecessor Mike Smith who was a member of the group? she asked the chief executive who took over at the start of the year.

Yes, he replied.

What does that mean to you, she asked.

Mr Elliott said he was committed to having an open, transparent and diverse workforce where everyone had a fair go.

I take the Male Champions of Change pretty seriously. About 40 per cent of senior leadership roles are held by women, he noted.

Not enough of the most senior roles, but we have seen significant improvement in that in the last couple of years. Ms Banks, who won the Melbourne seat of Chisholm from Labor at July federal election, asked the bank boss whether he had read her first speech to parliament.

The former lawyer, who discussed gender equality in her speech, wondered whether Mr Elliott could say from his heart of hearts female customers were treated as fairly as male customers.

This idea that the entire bank has a blokey culture, frankly I reject that, he replied.

Overwhelmingly, branches are run by very, very good women. Ms Banks recalled a story she shared in her speech about applying for her first home loan.

A general manager, smarmy, smirkly ... said that he would only factor into account my husbands income because I was a married woman of child-bearing age even though I was a fully qualified junior corporate lawyer. Mr Elliott agreed with Ms Banks it was a good idea for banks to train all staff to be aware unconscious bias a bias one is unaware of particularly when theyre dealing with female customers.


ANZ has changed its processes after having to repay nearly 400,000 customers almost $29 million in overcharged fees, the committee was told this morning.

The fees were supposed to be imposed on payments made to another person or business, but were wrongly charged to some customers transferring money between their own accounts.

That was a mistake, it was a mistake made in the programming, the algorithm if you will of doing that, CEO Shayne Elliott told the committee.

We have done an audit of that and we have changed our processes in terms of testing and making sure that terms and conditions are transferred into absolute accurate algorithms and charges going forward.

Mr Elliot admitted there would have been consequences for staff who made the mistake, but he would have to come back to the committee with details.

Mr Elliott, who took over the top job at ANZ nine months ago, said each time his bank falls short of what is expected it potentially harms a customer or a member of the community.

For that I apologise, he said.

When we fail our customers, it is my job to take accountability, apologise, fix it for the customer as quickly as possible, and make the changes required to stop it happening again.

Ian Narev CBA chief apologies for the bad experiences any customers have had with CBA

Aussies panicking over centrelink demands to pay up to avoid debt collector

´╗┐DEMANDS for Centrelink payments are putting Aussies under intense pressure, with the Government agency even tweeting the Lifeline suicide helpline number.

Like many Australians, Catherine Hehir, from Brisbane, was sent a letter just last month telling her she owed thousands in overpaid unemployment benefits.

In FY2011 to 12, she claimed benefits after leaving her admin job for full-time study, but Centrelinks new automated system introduced in October to claw back money from claimants had spread her wage across the whole year and calculated she needed to pay back $4500 she claimed while not working.

The 27-year-old told she spent a month trying to sort out the issue online, making calls to Centrelink and chasing up old employers from five years ago.

They suggested that I start a payment plan even before my review was complete to avoid being taken to a debt collector and they would reimburse me later if they found the debt was incorrect, which I refused to do because I knew it was wrong. Maybe that is what they are talking about their recovery success rate because people start paying to avoid worse outcomes.

I finally had enough and had a lengthy conversation with a Centrelink rep where the phone call went on for over an hour. I wouldnt take no for an answer, so she did my review manually in minutes and then, sure enough, found I was not guilty at all. Human common sense overriding an incorrect computerised system.

I was stressed and anxious about the debt and my case was straightforward, I couldnt imagine any pensioner, person with a disability or illness trying to manoeuvre this system.

Ms Herirs ordeal is finally over, after she received a letter today confirming she owed nothing. The young woman is one of the lucky ones. Thousands of Aussies are being forced to pay back welfare payments because of suspected Centrelink computer errors. has been contacted by scores of scared and angry Australians who say they or their loved ones have been falsely accused of owing money to the social security program, and even pursued by private debt collectors. Several said they had begun paying the unexplained debt because of short timeframes given to sort out the mess, but others do not have a cent to spare.

They include people with autism, those in care, a woman undergoing chemotherapy, the elderly and people with other mental and physical disabilities.


Colleen McCormack, from Melbourne, suffers from chronic pain and has had multiple surgeries that forced her out of her job in the healthcare industry for most of FY2013-14. The 36-year-old told that after receiving a Centrelink letter saying she owed more than $3000 she cried all the way through Christmas.

Ms McCormacks documents show she was out of work on sick leave, yet the automated system said her earnings must apply to the whole year, and she was ordered to pay back $3000.

Having mental health issues, suicide was my first thought, she said. She wrote back explaining her situation, but two weeks after the initial request, she received a letter from a private debt collection agency demanding payment on behalf of Centrelink. She has now set up a GoFundMe page in a desperate attempt to get financial help.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie yesterday said he had heard more than 100 complaints from terrified people, at least four of whom said they were suicidal.

Centrelink is paying three private debt collection companies to recover money from Australians. Many have expressed fear and frustration at receiving the letters but being unable to explain their case to a human, with phone lines clogged, branches unable to help and an online system incapable of comprehending nuance and complexities.

Michael Griffin, from Brisbane, told on Tuesday that after he was on the dole for three months in 2013, the automated system had gone back and averaged out his earnings for the year, assuming he was employed in those months and therefore owed just over $3000. The 34-year-old filmmaker labelled it extortion and calling it the biggest issue in Australia right now.

Im wondering if everyones going to get these letters, he said. Its preposterous.

Linda Steven, from rural NSW, was also asked to pay back her welfare payments of $8500 in FY2014-15 because the system decided she was in work for months when she was not.

She printed out two years worth of her payslips and visited a Centrelink office where staff tried to help her change her employment dates online.

It was soon discovered they cannot be changed because a debt has already been raised, she told The issue now has to go through a full administrative review process. Even though staff can look at my payslips and know I do not owe the money, nothing can be done.

At almost 64 years old and suffering from high blood pressure and a heart condition I can assure you the stress was overwhelming at first. Not to mention the lengthy phone wait times and expenses.

In the meantime, payment of the debt must still be made but they reduced the payment

that I must make to the minimum of $15 per fortnight for three months. Three months is the longest time they can reduce it for, and the staff member expressed the hope that my review would take place before then.

So all the money the Government is hoping to claw back is in fact non-existent in a lot of cases, and is actually costing Centrelink more in trying to sort out the mess.


The system was brought in three months ago, with the government claiming it would recover $4 billion in overpaid benefits owed to taxpayers by retirees, the unemployed, families, carers, parents, people with disabilities and indigenous Australians.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter on Tuesday maintained the automated system was working incredibly well. He told ABC radio less than one per cent of review letters had resulted in complaints and said they were not debt letters but polite letters.

The government has sent out 169,000 of the review letters regarding potential overpayment since July, and Mr Porter said one in five people who received one would not owe a debt.

In 80 per cent of instances the debt is repayable to the Commonwealth, in the final 20 per cent of instances the matter is resolved, generally speaking, by people simply providing information online, he said.

Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen, who has released his email for people to complain to him directly, told the ABC last night the letters sent out by Centrelink were not debt letters, and said there had only been just over 200 complaints.

I really am surprised that people are seriously suggesting that when we are obliged under the law to recover outstanding debt when it is identified, that we are being asked to stop doing this, Mr Jongen said. I think you need to keep all of this in context.

But Centrelink workers who told they wanted to remain anonymous said the program was in chaos.

The government is just cutting corners, calculating debts fast is their goal, and its just wrong, said one. Staff morale is so bad everywhere.


Centrelink sends people a letter warning of a potential overpayment and asking them to clarify their details online. It will also send an SMS.

ISSUE: Some people have moved or changed phone number and dont receive the messages.

You have 21 days from the date of the letter to update online.

ISSUE: Some have complex situations they cant explain in the online system. Others were told their salary did not match that recorded by the ATO. Upon confirming the ATO salary, the system averaged it out for the year without realising they werent earning anything for many of those months. Others found the system recorded them as having two jobs because their employer was recorded under slightly different names by the ATO and Centrelink (e.g. Uni Melbourne and University of Melbourne).

If there is a concern, you can call Centrelink or visit a branch to speak to someone.

ISSUE: Huge queues at branches, staff telling people to go back online, hours wait on telephone. Some also told their jobs prevented them from contacting Centrelink during normal working hours.

Once you update the information, Centrelink may ask you to provide supporting documentation, including bank statements, letters from an employer or payslips.

ISSUE: Some people no longer have the payslips from in some cases six years ago and/or their former employer no longer exists.

You will then receive a letter stating the amount you owe, plus a recovery fee of 10 per cent. If you do not begin payments within two weeks, you may receive a letter from the debt recovery agency.

ISSUE: You may still believe the decision is wrong but once the debt is raised, you have to begin paying it.

If you think the decision is wrong you can ask for a review.

ISSUE: The reviews take months, and in the meantime, you may still be pursued for the debt. Some were told to start paying it back and be reimbursed later but many say they do not have the hundreds of dollars to spare.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14