Bankers reject Latham call

The banking sector has rejected Opposition leader Mark Latham's proposals on fees and services, saying most of the issues have already been addressed. Labor released proposals at the weekend which would force banks to provide basic fee-free accounts for health-care cardholders and give six months' notice on branch closures. The Australian Bankers' Association, chaired by the ANZ's John McFarlane, said banks already offer basic accounts. It also claimed bank branches are increasing and all banks have moratoriums on branch closures. The industry recently agreed to a six-month notice period for any further closures, the ABA said. Labor also called for “health warnings” on credit cards but the ABA said Australia's disclosure requirements are already among “the strictest in the world”. McFarlane warned against excessive red tape and “cumbersome” regulation.