ANZ's political attacks in 1991

By Stephen Mayne
January 29, 2008

The following article appeared in the Herald Sun after the ANZ AGM held on January 30, 1991.

THE ANZ yesterday continued its running battle with Canberra yesterday with a barrage of attacks against the Treasurer, Mr Keating.

At the bank's annual meeting, ANZ chairman Milton Bridgland shot several broadsides at the Government, but this did not detract from the main event - shareholder attacks on directors .

Mr Bridgland said Mr Keating was "inward-looking" in blocking the merger of ANZ with National Mutual. He hoped the merger might proceed in the future under "a more enlightened treasurer".

The decision, he said, was "a worrying implication" for companies hoping to grow to an internationally competitive size.

On the broader front, Mr Bridgland slammed Mr Keating's "damaging" economic policies.

"In Australia, government management of the post-1987 economy has been particularly poor," he said.

"The resulting excessively prolonged high interest rates have created an additional damaging impact on the structure of Australian business."

And he placed much of the blame for "bank bashing" on the Government.

"It is fashionable in Australia to be critical of banks, and the fashion has been stimulated by intermittent political diatribes," he said.

Mr Bridgland saw the irony of defending his bank's "obscene" profits last year and then standing before shareholders lamenting the inadequacies of the profit slump the following year.