NAB posts $2.2 billion half year profit

The National Australia Bank announced a record $2.2 billion half-yearly profit to March 31st yesterday, triggering reactions from consumer spokespeople, who called on the Government to introduce a social charter for banks.

Catherine Wolzhuizen from the Australian Consumers' Association labelled the NAB's profits “absolutely obscene”, because they were generated over the same period that branch closures were announced in regional and rural areas, and fees for basic banking services rose. She said that banks are in a unique and privileged position because they provide an essential service in a non-competitive market, much like the utilities. Without regulation a bank like NAB will cry poor, she said, stinging its customers and cutting staff and services to prop up double-digit profits.

Opposition consumer affairs spokesman Alan Griffin said that the banks seem to be “positioning themselves for greed rather than growth”, while the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, said that the NAB's result highlighted the need for the bank to “think very, very carefully” about its social obligations, particularly in rural and regional Australia.