DISGRUNTLED bank customers and former staff have joined forces in a bid to contest the next federal election.
The Bank Reform Party, founded by members of Unhappy Banking, will seek registration from the Australian Electoral Commission once it has 500 formal members.
The party will field several senate candidates, who will campaign on a platform of fair competition and better regulation of the banking, supermarket and fuel sectors.
Former BankWest head of media Adrian Bradley said surveys had consistently showed most Australians wanted banks to be more accountable.
“We saw the banks’ arrogance again last week when they thumbed their nose at the RBA’s 50 basis point cut,” he said in a statement.
“The ALP and Coalition are out of step with the Australian community’s expectations on the need to reform our banks.”
Unhappy Banking was started off the back of complaints from 400 angry ex-BankWest customers, who claim the bank had been colluding with property valuers to force commercial borrowers to default on their loans.
The Perth-based bank is facing two potential class actions over the way it re-valued assets and called in the loans of hundreds of its small to medium-sized business clients after a takeover by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in 2008.
In a separate case, BankWest and CBA are among eight major banks being sued by a combined 171,000 customers who are seeking to recoup more than $220 million in excessive penalty fees.
Mr Bradley on Sunday denied the Bank Reform Party would be “bank bashers”.
“Australian banks are the lifeblood of the Australian economy,” he said.
“Australia urgently needs strong banks, but we also urgently need banks that are fair.”