Responsibility shared?

| January 8, 2020

Farmer Fred has an account with ‘Any Bank’. The seasons come and go, in good years he pays his way, in poor years the bank holds off somewhat, sympathetic to his circumstances.

They recognize that overall, Fred makes a profit, honours his obligations, it is a good working arrangement for both parties although agriculture is not among the bank’s more lucrative businesses.

Retailer Reg is in similar circumstances with Any Bank, his income ebbs and flows from events largely beyond his control. Mike the mechanic is in a similar situation.

One of the many adverse consequences of the recent (and ongoing) bushfire disaster is that many, many small businesses across the nation are now facing a very daunting future. Premises, stock, hardware, machinery, the necessary ingredients of lifestyle sustenance, all lost.

Those more fortunate will receive some measure of insurance but financial restitution however, money won’t replace or restore a life’s lost work.

Apportioning blame is not feasible, science demonstrates that over time, changes in climate since the Industrial Era of the late sixteenth century have altered the balance of the planet’s environment.

Gradually, these changes have brought us to the point where one could say, ‘The planet is objecting’. The ballooning human population is also a major contributor to our deteriorating situation and lifestyle.

The current worldwide erratic and violent weather events are confirmation the acceptable past is no longer the norm, we are into a new and abnormal environmental situation.

Collectively, we have brought it upon ourselves and collectively, we must deal with and live with, this advancing adversity.

In Australia, we now face a formidable moral dilemma. The financial institutions we all depend on; how will they fare now ? Those who have lost their livelihood, income and businesses, how are they to make good on their mortgages ?

Is a company or a corporation’s responsibility to shareholders paramount in these circumstances ? We all recognize you can’t wring blood from a stone.

Would ‘Any Bank’ withhold demands for mortgage repayments from their customers until each account can be rebuilt and made viable again ? The money the PM is allocating for the necessary rebuilding projects will of course, come from us, the taxpayers, collected over the next few years.

Anticipating the aggressive rapacity of the financial institutions, should we legislate to ensure that they act in a humane and compassionate manner – all this of course is for the long term national good.

The financial devastation is a national disaster and must be addressed with a firm strategy.  The government should dictate the terms here, not the banks and vested interests.