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An Australian farce

The following article comes from a senior British academic and friend who has asked for his name not to be published. From my point of view (Jonathan Pearce) everything in this article, in terms of what I know about the cant of so much contemporary bank PR spin, this article rings 100 per cent true.

Western businesses like Australia’s ANZ have toyed with Chinese communism so much they have put themselves on an inevitable road to ruin. As a new Cold War between the West and China’s increasingly despotic and brittle communist regime comes into ever sharper view, one of Australia’s major banking groups has emerged as the world’s exemplar of what not to do when it comes to strategy and reputation.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has long been mired in scandal and rumour. Predictably, it is currently facing court battles concerning share price fixing and cartel accusations.

However, under the leadership of CEO Shayne Elliott and the bank’s Chair David Gonski things have become so toxic that some observers are detecting unprecedented levels of incompetence.

Unable or unwilling to execute a coherent strategy, Elliott and his team have wasted several years honing a quintessentially woke public relations veneer in an attempt to disguise the bank’s massive involvement in totalitarian China.While publicly talking the talk of ‘diversity and inclusion’, ANZ’s leadership have made sure the bank is walking the walk of the CCP.

As China stamps on people’s freedoms at home, in Hong Kong, and further afield (not to mention its use of concentration camps and the forced sterilisation of minorities), ANZ has not only been left with oceans of increasingly questionable investments in China but it has also been exposed for having worked alongside China in its information warfare assaults on western free speech.

Shamefully, ANZ even fed the career of one of its own employees, the US citizen and star trader Bogac Ozdemir, to a Chinese disinformation operation because he dared to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party.

Similarly, while ANZ is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, the bank’s leadership has placed the organisation’s key data centre in the Chinese city of Chengdu.

Despite Chinese cyber-attacks on Australia and the recent expulsion by China of US diplomats from Chengdu, this is the city that Elliott chose as the location for ANZ’s main data ‘hub’ – therein putting at risk vast amounts of their customers’ personal information (not to mention all manner of emails and other communications).

Indeed, so far reaching has ANZ’s involvement and exposure to China been that Brussel’s EU Reporter recently likened the bank to running “the risk of becoming a twenty-first century Krupps or IG Farben”.

Strategically, ANZ is caught between the spokes of an unsustainable strategy on China, an overheating mortgage market in Australia, and a US-led west determined to face down the CCP and its proxies.

While most observers now expect Elliott’s contract with the bank will not be renewed in October, one insider in Melbourne goes so far as to say “he is toast,” adding, “Gonski’s exposure to China is so big he will have to go too.”

Truly, if ever you wanted to see a western business toy with totalitarianism, and in so doing place itself on a road of economic and reputational ruin, then this is it.

Devoid of morality, coherence and basic common sense, the failings of ANZ are so great they should make an entertaining MBA case study for years to come.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny.

10 comments to An Australian farce

  • Mr Ed

    Yes, but what do the shareholders say about it all?

    Oh, I see..

  • APL

    “Similarly, while ANZ is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, the bank’s leadership has placed the organisation’s key data centre in the Chinese city of
    Chengdu. “

    None of this is particular to ANZ. These patterns of behavior are typical of what you would expect to see in an inflated, debased bubble economy. With fiat money spigots permanently on, the fat cats executives utterly divorced from their clients, no financial constraints whatsoever. What would you expect but stupid corrupt decisions?

    The fact that they have attempted to offer banking services to the Chinese economy, another inflated debased bubble economy, probably hasn’t helped.

  • While most observers now expect Elliott’s contract with the bank will not be renewed in October, one insider in Melbourne goes so far as to say “he is toast,” adding, “Gonski’s exposure to China is so big he will have to go too.”

    The spectacle of “get woke, go broke” having actual consequences for people inside the charmed cicle would be most salutary – if it occurs (I will not count my chickens).

    This recent article seems relevant:

    When globalism’s obituary is finally written, and the mourners file past in their crisp suits and pantsuits, the cause of death will almost certainly read, the People’s Republic of China.

    “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.”, Lenin claimed. Well, woke crony ‘capitalists’ certainly would – and were.

  • Paul Marks

    I thought this post was about the tyranny going on Victoria (Melbourne), I made a mistake in my comment on Perry’s Tweet – should have READ BEFORE COMMENTING.

    Yes APL is correct – this is yet another sign of a Credit Bubble economy with corporations that have no connection with reality.

    Woke Corporations – fanatically pushing Frankfurt School of Marxism “Diversity and Inclusion” i.e. a boot smashing down into the face of humanity, for ever.

    Of course the Chinese Communist Party is NOT Frankfurt School (indeed they despise “white leftists” – there is even a special character in the Chinese script that has been created as a, contempt filled, name for them), but such Corporate fools weaken the West – and so the CCP finds them useful.

    I recently watched the television pictures which Western fools accepted from China in March (hat tip to Tony Heller on Youtube).

    People dropping dead in the streets from Covid 19 – accept that the pictures were obviously FAKE.

    Other people (in fancy dress – not even looking like proper biowarfare suits) walking the streets spraying a “special substance” which was clearly WATER.

    People being sealed into their homes with wielding tools – if true, this was clearly MURDER – but the Western “lockdowns” seem to have been inspired by it (especially in Victoria – which dotes on anything tyrannical).

    The Western Corporate and Political elites fell for this bovine excrement? Really? Just how stupid are they?

    So either we are ruled by Corporations and Governments seeking totalitarian “Agenda 21” and “Agenda 2030” the “Great Reset” of “sustainable development” tyranny.


    We are ruled by dribbling idiots – controlling the vast Corporations and most Western governments.

    Or perhaps it is a bit-of-both.

  • Paul Marks

    Unlike some people here I do have a television set – but I tend to avoid British television news programmes (indeed British television in general) because whenever I turn it on, it is far left propaganda – really extreme stuff, wild lies with no connection at all to the truth. Both in the news and in the entertainment programmes.

    How can anyone stand watching it on a regular basis?

    Some months ago I even watched a “briefing” by the Prime Minister on British television,

    Somehow the “two weeks to flatten the curve” had changed to something else – but listening to the person was like listening to random words – nothing that was said made any sense, yet people around the man were nodding gravely. It was utterly bizarre.

    “Keep your lines straight – every tenth man will have a bit of metal on their back so that we can see by reflected light that your lines are straight. And remember to walk slowly – no rushing, keep orderly”.

    Bark, bark, bark, – bark, bark, bark. Moo, moo, moo – moo, moo, moo.

    The “experts” never change.

    Almost 180 years ago the answer of Sir Charles Trevelyan to economic collapse was to put local taxes UP – indeed vastly UP.

    Massively increasing taxation being “laissez faire” – if one is a raving lunatic.

    But then I once thought that Mr Jonson had pro freedom instincts, and I thought that Australians were tough pro-freedom people.

    So I am in a glass house as I throw my stones.

  • Mr Ed


    No, it makes for more interesting diversions. 🙂

    As APL points out, the bank effectively has a life and purpose of its own, like a cancer, devouring the host. A bit like RBS, it devours so much fiat money that it becomes ‘too big to fail’, but the failure has already happened, the bank has grown on fiat money and splurged ‘money’ around creating endless liabilities and distortion.

    The only sensibie answer is a total, immediate liquidation of the bank, sending the staff, even the janitors (who are probably outsourced) away and to close it, and let creditors write in and whistle for their money. Put the directors in prison for fraud, personally liable for the debts, and you have an example.

    Then tell the other banks to put their houses in order, sharpish. And cut off the fiat money.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    It seems to be a common understanding here that a big part of the problem is how central bank debasement of currency has created “zombie” financial institutions in which the executives can act in certain ways in the sure knowledge that investors won’t be greatly concerned. Even so, we might be reaching the stage where stupidity at this level has consequences. A number of Western banking executives (think Danske Bank in squeaky clean Denmark) got fired for lax anti-money laundering controls. I wonder how indulgent people will continue being towards banks that turn a blind eye to shit going on in China while also playing the “woke” card in the West.

    Paul Marks has been banging on about this for years – the way that corporates have used trendy political/cultural themes as marketing ploys, all the while cosying up to regimes, however vile, if they can make money. It just might be that this crap is starting to become harder to pull off.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Well, as an Australian, I can comment that the general tone in Australia is very anti-Chinese. The government, that is. It’s almost as though the people don’t trust communists! The Federal Government is even preparing laws to repeal the connection of Victoria (a state) to China via the Belt and Roads initiative. At the same time, we sell a lot of clean foods to the Chinese, and lots of minerals, so things are mixed.

  • Richard Rostrom

    The problem is not “woke culture” nor “bubble banking”.

    It is doing business with bad actors. In dealings with a country where the government is corrupt, it is very difficult not to be corrupted to some degree.

    Even when the business is entirely aboveboard, it exerts an influence.

    And the bad actor doesn’t have to be a government: it can be a population of bigots.

    For instance, for many years Hollywood productions were constrained by the perceived requirement to avoid offending the racial prejudice of white Southerners. The studios weren’t getting orders from the KKK; they were concerned about ticket sales.

    In the present day, I expect that Hollywood productions would be similarly constrained by a perceived need to avoid offending potential Chinese ticket-buyers. For instance, one might see this in the adaptation of a novel where a comic character has a Mrs. Jellyby-like obsession with Tibetan independence. This element would be dropped from the movie, in at least part to avoid offending the Chinese audience, nearly all of whom are hostile to Tibetan independence (even in Taiwan).

    The financial power of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-states has similar consequences.

    There is no way to avoid such influence other than a complete embargo – a coercive cure which could be much worse than the disease. The best that can be done is constant watchfulness and pushback where needed.

  • Richard Rostrom (August 28, 2020 at 8:08 pm), your point that influence can be indirect is valid but I offer two qualifications.

    1) Influence may be direct and/or sympathies may be shared. The Klan-ride scene in ‘Birth of a Nation’ was not just inserted from an indirect and un-ideological desire to avoid lower ticket sales south of the Mason-Dixon line. Likewise in modern times, a claim that some cringing to China was just a box-office decision may in some cases be most of the answer but in others mostly an excuse.

    2) Yielding only to such indirect influence may still demonstrate immense dishonesty and/or hypocrisy. Actions speak louder than words. When actions show that ticket sales in flyover country matter not at all but ticket sales in China matter immensely, some loudly-declaimed words about wonderfully-woke Hollywood may justly be called lies.