Tipping Point of intolerance of corporate behaviour?
You have something here, I agree that we could be on the brink. Today I actually bought a paper copy of the Australian Financial Review (Thursday 7 April 2016). I usually just read a shared copy at the coffee shop. I tweeted “#tippingpoint #election2016 #auspol Today #AFR a litany of corporate criminality, corruption, greed & incompetence”.
I’m active in business and I believe that competition and business is the essential lifeblood of any economy. But I am also human and reflective and find it hard to ignore increasing flow of leaks, revelations and investigations of corrupt corporate behaviour which benefit so few at the expense of many.
The Australian Financial Review (AFR) is Australia’s leading financial newspaper, it leans well to the Right, as do its owners of course. Australia’s Prime Minister is an ex-banker and ex-MD of Goldman Sachs Australia, heads an increasingly conservative Right Wing party, and is the richest Prime Minister in Australia’s history.
But — and here is the astounding bit — this Right Wing conservative ex-banker Prime Minister of our country carried the lead article of the AFR today with this story.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed what he said was the banks culture of greed as political pressure mounted for a royal commission into the scandal-plagued industry.
Furthermore he said this at a lunch as a guest of one of Australia’s 4 oligopoly banks — no doubt giving his host a bout of indigestion.
Panama Papers are just the beginning
The AFR today was just article after article about corporate ineptitude, greed, corruption and criminality. I was so struck with reading this page after page that I bought my own copy, to read and digest what is going on.
The Panama Papers are driving so many other people to come forward, that is also a trend. People in companies are so fed up with their companies’ behaviour that the rate of leaks is increasing, as is the “quality” of the information. In fact the a Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Tax Office said this very thing on TV last Monday evening. More leaks, better information, leading to more prosecutions.
Standard denial no longer tolerable
I think that people are fed up with the standard PR-driven drivel that emanates from corporate leaders when presented with evidence of wrongdoing and criminality in their ranks.
The Prime Minister’s host for the aforementioned lunch where he spoke out was Westpac, one of the 4 banks that comprise the banking oligopoly in Australia. The very day before the lunch Australia’s corporate watchdog ASIC launched legal action against Westpac for alleged rigging of the benchmark interest rate.
The Chairman of ASIC, Greg Medcraft, said “As someone with 30 years in banking, I think I understand how banks hedge”. And therefore he also understands how they manipulate rates.
The response of Westpac’s Chairman was the usual combination of outrage, denial and indifference —the well rehearsed “PR reflex”.
Westpac’s Chairman Lindsay Maxsted played it down. He said his bank would fight vigorously the ASIC case and rejected suggestions it had a cultural problem.
That there has been no wrongdoing is as likely as Hillary Clinton being voted Mother of the Year in the State of Texas. Ironically, if ASIC loses the case due to legal technicalities or failures in legislation and regulation — highly likely — then they may well have won the battle but lost the war. Public opinion against the current corporate culture will be further mobilised.
Regulator accused of being Hitler
Most remarkably the attempts of the corporate regulator — ASIC’s Greg Medcraft — to push for the reform of Australian banking culture resulted in the chair of Australia’s Financial System Inquiry and former Commonwealth Bank CEO David Murray comparing Medcraft to Hitler.
It’s an astonishing last stand by someone who is a lifelong product of the Australian banking industry, and culture, and it shows the hubris, arrogance and delusional elitism which is brought about by the lack of competition and complete lack of respect for customers.
On the bright side, it certainly adds fuel to fire burning among the public about the need for change and highlights how corporate behaviour has been allowed to go too far. The timing, ironically, was good.
Times have, or are changing
We’re on the brink of the change and the cracks are certainly showing. How those changes will manifest themselves I have no idea.
But the current tolerance of global corporate behaviour has reached its limit, as typified by the content of today's Australian Financial Review.
I’m Walter. I write articles on fitness, health, and motivation for men and women over 50. However, curiosity is my main distinction. I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a bolt of lightning hitting me in Korea, crash landing in a 747 (LAX), being sucked into a thundercloud at 4,000m in a sailplane (Australia), jumping freefall from 3,000m on my 1st ever parachute jump (Florida), and two different lethal cancers. In 2000 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes which sparked my interested in exercise, nutrition, motivation and cognitive fitness. University qualified in mathematical statistics, and computing science (Masters); have a professional diploma in sports nutrition; certified social media strategist. Feel free to message/email me with any comments, questions, or collaboration ideas. Blog: walteradamson.com