6 Sep 2018

Shane Jones presents case on rural banks to Reserve Bank governor

3:05 pm on 6 September 2018

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has made his case to the Reserve Bank governor that he should prevent banks from shutting their rural branches.

Shane Jones

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says the Reserve Bank governor has listened to his concerns. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Mr Jones launched a broadside on Australian-owned banks last week, accusing them of gouging provincial New Zealanders to channel profits across the Tasman.

Along with Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Economic Development Minister David Parker, he met with Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr today.

Following the meeting, he told reporters Mr Orr took his concerns on board.

"He didn't boost my hopes but I have to say that he gave me a very fair hearing," Mr Jones said.

"He has undertaken to go away and do some further work and establish what, if anything, he might be able to do within his statutory responsibilities."

Mr Orr also warned against pushing any approach which would require banks to operate in a "suboptimal manner," Mr Jones said.

"And I would expect the Governor of the Reserve Bank to say that."

However, Mr Jones said he was not worried about upsetting the Australian bankers.

"It's very hard to find a key example in Australia where Kiwis are given a fair go, so I'm not concerned about damaging the feelings of Australian owners."

Mr Jones said he had "strongly lobbied" Mr Robertson to direct the Monetary Policy Inquiry to look into the future of essential financial services in the regions.

"I'm sure that my entreaties ... with Grant Robertson will find some fruit, but at the end of the day, it's his call."

The trading banks had also sought meetings with Mr Jones, but if they wanted him to be quiet, "that message will fall on barren fields," he said.

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