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Credit unions, building societies welcome 'fifth pillar'

By webmaster
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Australia’s mutuals (credit unions and building societies) have shown their support for treasurer Wayne Swan’s 'fifth pillar' plan.

Louise Petschler chief executive officer of Abacus, the industry body for mutuals, said Mr Swan’s plan to help create a viable and competitive alternative to the majors was long overdue.

“It is an extraordinary achievement that mutuals, dwarfed by the major banks, can offer not just better service but better pricing than the major banks. Our sector can perform even more strongly with some government assistance to grow and diversify our sources of funding and to raise consumer awareness about banking choice,” she said.

“In many ways we are already the ‘fifth pillar’ in Australian banking, due to our market share in household deposits, home loans, transaction accounts and the size of our branch and ATM networks.

Earlier this week, Abacus submitted its plan for a more competitive banking system to the Senate Inquiry into banking competition.

“The plan we put to the Senate inquiry has both an immediate and a longer-term focus but we are hopeful proposals that can be implemented quickly will be addressed in the banking reform package to be unveiled soon by treasurer Wayne Swan,” Ms Petschler said.

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