Com Com opts out of protecting farmers

A decision today to settle with Westpac Banking Corp out of court removes the Commerce Commission’s obligation to protect the rights of farmers, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“From a farming perspective, the Commerce Commission is about as useless as tits on a bull.

“Westpac has today admitted its marketing of interest rate swaps was likely to be misleading and it will now pay up to $2.5 million to 38 farmers. It will also pay $250,000 to rural support trusts.

“This deal means – along with agreements struck with ANZ and ASB – that banks have financed their way out of court action with nominal payments to a few hundred farmers, a small number of those affected.

“Many farmers were forced to sign confidentiality agreements when refinancing with the banks.

“The reluctance of the Commission to follow through with court action undermines the integrity of our legal system and reinforces the growing view that money buys justice,” Damien O’Connor says.

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