9 Jul 2009

Australian economists want state bank and inquiry

3:07 pm on 9 July 2009

Six Australian economists have published an open letter calling for an inquiry into how the four big banks there use their market power.

They have also called for the establishment of a state-owned bank in Australia along the lines of KiwiBank in New Zealand.

The Government has not ruled out the demands but indicates they are not really necessary.

The call for an inquiry into banking in Australia follows the rejection of a similar idea in New Zealand.

Banks charge higher interest rates in New Zealand than they do in Australia, although they benefit from lower baseline interest rates than in Australia.

Last week, Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Select Committee ruled out investigating banking practices.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan says the federal government has no plans to set up a public bank.

Mr Swan says Australia's banking system has performed well during the financial crisis.