The 2023 Potential Debt Trap

Beware of the bank

Solomon said “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” How true that can be.
Bankers in particular knew that ultra-low interest rates were unlikely to last for long without a recession or depression, as did most accountants and economists. The rates would probably rise instead. This would apply equally to a home loan, farm loan and business loan.

Most business loans and farm loans are for between 15 and 30 years. Most home loans are for 30 years. So borrowers are in there for the long haul and a lot can happen to interest rates in a year.

If in 2023 Australia goes into recession or depression, the properties providing mortgage security for loans would probably collapse and many borrowers would not have the assets to make up the required security. The other impact of a recession is worse, loss of jobs and income. The bank might try to foreclose and sell the property up. Those borrowers could lose all their hard earned equity in their home, business or farm.

If on the other hand interest rates continue to rise, the borrowers may find that they cannot afford the increased repayments. There are plenty of million- dollar loans out there throughout Australia. Each 1% increase in the interest rate on each $1m of a loan costs the borrower $10,000 a year.

To survive, the borrowers would have to earn an extra $10,000 in net disposable income. That is an extra $10,000 in pay-packet or an extra $10,000 Net Profit, per million dollars of the loan or a similar reduction in spending. But rising interest rates can be synonymous with inflationary increases in prices, so to earn extra net disposable income could be a serious challenge. If that happened, many borrowers would again be unable to meet the loan repayments.

Because the banks had already been clever enough to issue a variety of loans that were always unaffordable from the start, there is potential for a mass of debt defaults in 2023-2025. In these cases the banks could foreclose and overall mostly recover close to the amount they had loaned out, maybe even more because accumulated unpaid interest can take a debt way beyond what it started out as.

Profit before principles – always
The big four banks, having earned $2.8 billion dollars profit last year between them, could afford to lose a bit here or there. The borrowers given potentially unaffordable loans would not be so lucky.

Of course, there are some excellent smaller banks and bank staff at non-executive level are mostly very helpful and honest people.

Just to ensure that they were in control, the bankers had legislation passed by the last Federal Government to prevent many consultants from helping borrowers, particularly home buyers and other consumers. These borrowers are restricted by law from getting help from almost anyone not in the pay of the banking and financial services industry. Lawyers are an expensive exception. The aim of the banks is to send people to financial counsellors who receive bank funding and are not known for getting dishonest banks to write off debt that has been fraudulently created. The alternative is to receive assistance from the moneylenders’ very own industry body called AFCA which is so blatantly working for the banks that until recently the most compensation they would award was a maximum of $5,000. Recognising their own dishonesty AFCA, as the result of a critical review of its operations following the Banking Royal Commission, has increased that to $2 million. But it has not gone back over past cases to re-assess compensation and increase amounts from $1500 to $15,000 or even $150,000 when that was the damage done by the bank to the borrower.

Even restricted free speech
The bankers have even successfully banned free speech in Australia with the Credit act preventing any paid consultant outside of the ruthless, bullying bank-controlled circle of “dispute resolvers” from even speaking to a borrower about dishonest bank action or speaking to the bank about it on behalf of the borrower. “We have ways of resolving your dispute”. Indeed the bankers do!

The banking industry has stitched up control  so that it can continue to rob, defraud and deprive borrowers just as it did before the Hayne Royal Commission exposed its dishonest practices and issued multi-million dollar fines. I don’t think it sent one bank director or CEO to gaol. Yet a woman who stole $2m from nab was quickly sentenced to imprisonment. Crooked bankers are well protected from gaol no matter how much they steal from or defraud Australians.

Batting for the borrowers
For the past 35 years since de-regulation, GBAC has worked steadfastly with business and farm borrowers, to have their banks write off unreasonable amounts of debt that were created by the bank’s improper lending practices, lies, deceit or totally inappropriate loan management. We have done that by working with those banks to carefully explain to them what they had done wrong and the impact it that had on their particular customers. The banks, some very willingly, and some very grudgingly, have paid up to compensate their customers for the damage caused to them by the bank’s action. We have had 100% of two debts written off and $5 million written off another. At least one bank CEO has been most helpful and really does care about his customers.

However, profit is key to bankers and that comes largely from charging customers more for the services, than it costs to provide them. People in Rural and Regional Australia and in the suburbs know about that. After the Royal Commission some of the banks had to come up with a clever way to continue to rip off their customers and they have found, in the Credit Act and AFCA, a way to do it.

However, we have very good parliaments in Australia, despite the impression often given in the media. The parliaments are our source of fairness and justice. Borrowers worried about how they will manage their loans throughout the years ahead will be able to easily take their cases to ALL parliamentarians by sending Votergrams to MPs.

Act Early
Meanwhile all borrowers might look closely at how to minimise risk by increasing their loan terms by some years to reduce the principal amount that is included in each repayment. They could also look around to see what cheaper loans might be available if they needed to refinance in the face of a bank demand for full repayment of the loan. LoanApps can help with that. It may, if possible, also be wise to cut expenses and do everything possible to increase income.

None of us knows what the future holds, but the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts have a great motto that could be followed to advantage  by borrowers. It is “BE PREPARED”. I have found it invaluable in the farms and businesses I have run, as well as for helping those we consult.

Greg

Voterlobby Validates Democracy

There is so much talk about democratic disasters. Australia’s unique Voterlobby protects voters against such chaos by helping interested voters and politicians work together for the good of society. What are big problems for voters can easily be solved by politicians.

Examples road toll down by 70%, no-smoking on airliners; community pharmacies supported; ski resorts saved; classrooms air conditioned. As long as voters play their part it works.

Many voters have not yet realised that good government requires input from them. They actually know what is wanted and needed in their areas and lives. Politicians have proved remarkably keen to assist with good ideas put forward by voters.

Voterlobby has for the past 36 years given interested voters control of their society with a stunning portfolio of successes.

Around the world many claimed “democracies” have proven to be dictatorships. In others, electoral results have been questioned. This suggests that electoral results should be independently audited by major accounting firms.

But election results are not of that much interest to Voterlobby voters . They know that whoever is in power, enough MPs are likely to assist them to achieve their goals, provided that they are fair and reasonable towards the population and help those who need to be helped.

Importance of a Voice

Every Australian already has access to a powerful Votergram Voice to every Australian Parliament. By one Votergram, one pharmacist persuaded parliament to introduce cheaper generic medicines for us all.

Others have other ways of influencing government. Bodies like RSPCA, BCA, ACTU lobby for their members. A similar government funded voice for Indigenous Australians would be important and may well need constitutional recognition to be permanent. Votergrams empower all Australians, not just one group.

Legalese
Exact wording of any amendment to our constitution is important, to know exactly what is being done. To hide that for fear of “a fight” over exactly what is proposed would seem dishonest. It could earn lawyers millions in court cases, at our cost.

If we are all to fund and respect The Indigenous Voice we should know who it will represent; how its governing body will be appointed or elected and what power it will have to influence parliament.

In the end the effectiveness of the voice to Parliament depends on the evidence-based logic accompanying any request or suggestion. Parliament always needs to be convinced of the fairness of any requests or suggestions.
Now
But right now the rest of us can urge governments to offer our regional, rural and remote communities, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, the same level and quality of educational facilities, health care, owned housing, childcare, aged care and career opportunities as in capital cities. Cost is not a question in Advancing Australia Fair. The highest earners in Australia currently pay the lowest marginal tax rates.

What we probably can be convinced of in respect of the Indigenous Voice is that it will not use money in the form of political donations to bribe and bully our elected representatives as some other groups do currently.
Democracy puzzle
It is a puzzling aspect of democracy that to achieve a fair go we each have to make our own case to convince the parliament to do what is fair for us. With 17 million voters and 26 million Australians that is the only way it can work. Our elected Parliamentary Representatives cannot be expected to try to think up what we all need, then provide it. We, the people of Australia know what we want and need from our daily experiences in our own communities and contacts, just as Aboriginal community members know best what they want and need.

Votergrams have taken the wishes of thousands of Australians politely and persistently putting them before each politician for the past 36 years. In most cases they have been accepted, like the availability of cheaper generic medicines, suggested by this one wise pharmacist from regional NSW.

Aboriginals surely have a right to a permanent government funded voice, as the British government early Australian governments and many early settlers took all that the Aboriginals had, land, freedom, children, daughters, wives and killed many others. That body should have no more power over government than to convey an Aboriginal viewpoint.

Aboriginals do surely deserve recognition in the constitution as owners of Australia before the British invaded and authorised their murder, rape, kidnapping, enslavement and child abduction.

Fair-minded Aussies do not have to wait for a referendum. They can use their Votergram voices to persuade our governments to rectify past wrongs by bringing the Aboriginal community up to speed with home ownership, health care, education and career opportunities through compensation for what was done to them, to be paid mostly in services.

Votergrams are very persuasive because politicians need to know what we want and why, so they can do what is right. Or they can join Voters Network and build a campaign team to do so.

Greg

Bank customers deserve a fair go but need help to get it.

Christ had problems with the moneychangers in the temple and Australian banks are making billions and paying executives millions while many of their customers are battling to survive. It is time for bank customers to stand up for a fair go.

“Why would anyone invest their money on term deposit with the major banks at 3.35% when the government also guarantees term deposits placed with Macquarie Bank at 4.1%, AMP at 4.1% and Rabobank at 3.9%”, asks banking consultant GBAC?

With business and farm loans, GBAC offers it’s Loan Apps for borrowers wanting the best rates as well as best  charges and terms to suit the specific enterprise. Bargaining with the banks is the only way that GBAC believes borrowers get  fair go. Brokers serve the interests of the banks that pay them. GBAC and Loan Apps serve the customers because the bank customers pay them – a lot less than the banks pay the brokers.

GBAC invites readers to phone 0428 417 496 to chat about what works best.

How can this be?

Teachers taught writing in the 1940s & ‘50s but cant teach it now!!

A regulated casino is deemed not fit to hold a licence; pays $100m and is allowed to continue operating! Big corruption?

Medicare (taxpayers) robbed of $8 billion1

Political donations and fundraisers deliver favours to donors. Pure corruption! What about 100% government funding, for those who do not accept any other funding

Pork barrelling pleases voters and politicians but disadvantages those in safe electorates! What about a ban on grants in 12 months preceding election?

Federal politicians pass Credit Act to prevent skilled consultants not in the pay of the moneylenders (bankers) from rescuing destitute borrowers facing foreclosure. More corruption!

It can be because voters have failed to direct their parliamentary representatives to Advance Australia Fair, leaving MPs at the mercy of the self-interested and corrupt.

Time to take control voters and guide government through your elected representatives (MPs). Time for Christians to take an active role in  guiding government. Voters Network, FairGO, Votergrams and Voterlobby make that easy and effective. Built on Christ’s teachings

Christ’s teachings reveal some strategies for shaping society

Queen Elizabeth II decided at 25 to serve instead of ruling. That has worked well.

Let us follow suit, because if we serve our country, then it will be a better place for everyone.

Christ set the tone of the Queen’s life by explaining that He came to serve too.

His teachings also provide a brilliant guide to how we can shape a fair and just society.

We, my family and I, heeded His teachings. Votergrams, FairGO, Voterlobby and Voters Network are built on those teachings. Like the house built on rock, they have continued to be successful.

The teachings on which they are built are often seen as related to spiritual matters, but Christ said that He came so that we might live life to the full and that surely meant as people on Earth.

“Ask and you will receive, knock and the door will be opened to you”. Votergrams help individuals to ask the very best people in Australia for help. Those people are the Members of Parliament. If you do not ask them all, there is little hope that they will do what you want. They are not psychic!

The Good Samaritan parable teaches us that we should look after those in need of being looked after. That is as well as looking after ourselves and those for whom we have direct responsibility. Peak bodies and community groups as well as individuals can use Votergrams to great effect to help their members.

In addition FairGO and Voterlobby consultants help people to achieve their goals through polite political persuasion in the relative privacy of parliament.

The parable of the sower is the basis of the success of Votergrams, for they enable people to sow ideas and suggestions throughout parliament. Some never gets read. Some is read and discarded. Some MPs decide to act but get distracted by other jobs. But some MPs pick up the Votergram and act on it. That yields huge results. It helps thousands of people, such as the 35,000 not killed on Australian roads since we used Votergrams from 1987 to force down the road toll, or like the thousands of travellers around the world who don’t any more suffer the impact of passive smoking whilst flying on commercial airlines, thanks to a Seventh Day Adventist Votergram campaign to ban smoking on Australian commercial airlines.

The parable of the woman knocking on the judge’s door to get justice and getting it, not because he wanted to help her but because he wanted her to stop knocking, teaches us to be persistent with Votergram campaigns and not stop until the objective is achieved. Cutting the road toll took 20 years.

Christ urged us to pray to God in private rather than in public so that God answers our prayers in private. In the same way our Votergrams communicate in private with every MP in the privacy of parliament. Public protests and strikes embarrass the government MPs, making them look “wrong” or dishonest. Public humiliation tends to make most of us react to justify what we have been doing and so protests and strikes make MPs defend their present practices, which is exactly the opposite of what the strikers or protesters want.

Christ said that with faith we could move mountains. I don’t suppose He was desperately keen to see mountains being moved around. Rather it was a figure of speech that said if you believe you can , you probably can and if you believe you can’t, you probably can’t. I remember being told that cutting the road toll was impossible, but with faith I was able to reduce it from 17 per 100,000 to 5 per 100,000. I had faith that Parliamentarians could change the laws, driver education, enforcement, influence trucking industry behaviour and design of cars and roads; faith that killing was not a necessary part of driving. When government was determined to do nothing about the killings, I campaigned in one marginal seat at a by-election and the government lost the seat. Then it decided to listen and gradually started to act on cutting the road toll. I persisted for 20 years as the toll continued to fall. I stopped then from lack of support and resources at 5 killed per 100,000 and the decline stopped there too.

I doubt that many Christians have realised how much Christ’s teachings can inform us about the unknown secrets of democracy. Many people believe that it brings “fair, just government for the benefit of the people” but are angry that it is not doing that. They do not realise that it will only happen if they follow Christ’s advice to make it happen. A fair and just society does not rest with God. God has given us all the tools and lessons to make it fair and just.  It is up to us to make it happen. For Christians that means serving our fellow Australians with the knowledge Christ has given to us. Democracy gives us the best chance at “fairness and justice” but they do not come automatically. Leaders are  just as self-interested as they ever were. But in democracy we can exchange votes for fairness and withdraw them if it is denied. That is usually not needed. Politicians want to help when asked nicely.

Christians in other countries may also be able to achieve the same results as long as they realise that it requires carrots and sticks to make it work. “Speak quietly but carry a big stick” is the guiding phrase. The big stick is a willingness to put party politics aside and campaign in a marginal electorate against the government if it will not do what is required to make the society “fair and just for all”. It is easy, but requires some good strategies, including not criticising the government at all. For Christ also taught that it is the words that come out of our mouths that can cause harm.

Let’s do what we can to serve our country well and reap the rewards along with others.

Ride the wave of Government intentions

The best time to influence government is when it has decided to do what you want. If the new Federal Government has announced it will do what you want, now is the time to send your Votergrams.
Ride the wave and persuade all politicians to support the government in doing it. Votergrams.com.au . Your voice to parliament!

Ask and there is a good chance you will receive. Sow the seeds of ideas widely and some will grow.

Don’t wait until it it’s too late and parliament has rejected it.
The difference between Voters Network and other bodies who have followed us into the political persuasion space since we started the Votergram service in 1986, is that most of them have a particular agenda and want your support for it.
Voters Network on the other hand is there for you to achieve your agenda if it fits broadly into the category of giving everyone a fair go. We exist for your initiatives and we empower you to achieve your objectives with the help of parliament.
That is what you elect and pay it for, after all. Parliamentarians are the most helpful and powerful people in Australia. Make the most of that!

Nurses and the Numbers Game

 

Nurses know how to care for sick people. They apparently don’t know how to influence government in a democracy.

Strikes are blunt instruments that offend rather than persuade the very people from whom they want support, the patients and MPs.

Pharmacists scored $1.5 billion a year by Votergram.  Psychologists got their money from Telehealth in 5 days by Votergram. Smoking was banned on commercial airlines thanks to Votergrams. Domestic violence has been tackled for years thanks in part to Votergrams.

What would fix government nursing policy problems is a good shot in the arm of electoral logic, an explanation of what the nurses need and why and the threat of harsher treatment in the marginal areas if need be.

Nurses are giving the treatment to the wrong people in the wrong way. They need to talk to those who can say “Yes” (MPs) instead of those who can say “No” (bureaucrats) and do it through polite, persistent logic-based political persuasion in the privacy of parliament, rather than by public protest.

If some of the 73,000 nurses put their “voter’s hats” on to deliver a strong dose of strategically prescribed Votergrams, their association is likely to be pleasantly surprised. Individual nurses vote in elections. Their association does not so it needs their support and patient support to add strength to its arguments. Votergrams are by far the most cost-effective way to do that.

That is why I started Votergrams in 1986. It gives every Australian a very effective voice to each member of every parliament in Australia on any issue of interest. Democracy is a magic system of government. Voters just have to use it properly.

There’s judging and Judging – How to judge a bank

How you judge a bank is very much dependent on what it is you want from the bank.

If one is investing in the bank by buying shares on the Australian stock exchange then two major factors are relevant. The first is the profit that the bank earns and the second is the net assets that back the share price. It’s prospects of earning in the future will also be relevant to how its share pricing is judged.

But if one is wondering whether it is a good bank with which to put one’s banking business or from which to borrow, then the lower the profit earned by the bank the better it is likely to treat its customers.

Best Bank is Bendigo Community Bank

I deal with most major banks in Australia and the one I have found to be by far the best is Bendigo Bank and specifically its Community Bank which tends to share some of its profits with the local community. Customers can own a share in their bank and that is a good investment because it earns money and respect. The service I receive from Bendigo Bank is so far ahead of the service I receive from the big four banks, that it is impossible to really compare them.

When I walked into NAB a while back I realised that I was not very important to them. Staff turnover is so great that there is no continuity of capable people in the branch with which I could deal. I have seen alleged appalling behaviour by a nab broker that does not seem to worry the bank too much. Commonwealth still looks after customers very well and does not seem to lend customers into trouble as much as it did when banks were first deregulated. ANZ has been good at executive level, at dealing with bad conduct that has damaged customers, but its local branch was so hopeless to deal with that I just gave up and left. Trying to deal with ANZ credit cards over the phone today was just a nightmare. Its phone service is as bad as its in-branch service. Computers doing the job people should, in order to cut costs and services to maximise profits.

Westpac offers ridiculously low interest rates on term deposits to existing customers compared to new ones, so we give it a miss for clients who have banked with it for years. I don’t deal with it now either.

When I walk into the local Bendigo Community bank most of the tellers greet me by name. They told me years ago that their aim was to know each customer’s name by the third time the customer came into the bank.

The service from Bendigo is absolutely exceptional and I cannot fault it. When negotiating with its subsidiary Rural bank its negotiators were again light years ahead of the counterparts of the big four banks and treated the customers for whom I was negotiating with great respect and fairness.

Profit is important but so is caring for people

Today I read in the paper that the stock market was disappointed in Bendigo and Adelaide’s profit margins. As a person who has bought a very small number of Bendigo and Adelaide and Big Four bank shares, I was not in any way disappointed. In fact I was delighted, because I knew that the reason the bank had not produced the gigantic multi-billion-dollar profits of the big four was that it cares more about looking after customers, than it does about making money out of me. It does not pay its CEO $1m a month like some.

Competition is the key to the best banking service

People don’t ask me to advise them on which bank to bank with. When new clients come to me to find a bank loan I use our Loan Apps to contact every bank that I think will help the customer. Then the customer can negotiate with each bank that responds so that they get the very best loan that suits them and a banker with whom they are happy to work. It is better for everyone who is looking for a loan to ask every bank that is likely to be interested and then play one off against the other to end up with the very best loan. That is a system I developed in 1987 when banks were first deregulated and decided to put their profits a long way ahead of their customers. I remember one of the first people to use our Loan App system saved $300,000 in interest on their loan.

So, as with many things in life it is what one is seeking to gain that determines the criteria by which one should judge the various options. The fields in which I deal are banking and politics. In both, that system of judging is vitally important if one is looking for the best outcomes. Today many people choose the bank simply because they have been with it for years and it is not too bad. In exactly the same way many people vote for the same political party because they have been voting for it for years and it is not too bad.

In both cases I have seen that people get better results when they judge critically on actual past performance rather than tradition. Joining the Australian Voters Network puts most people into a winning position with banks and government due to the support they receive.

Votergrams – The influential voice of each & every Australian voter

Prior to March 1986 the only voice Australian voters had to government was via their local MP. Even if those MPs were inclined to do what was asked, they often did not have the power to do so. Voters became very disillusioned with democracy. The “Yes Minister” bureaucracy ruled with an iron fist.

Then in March 1986, a Christian Chartered Accountant by the name of Greg Bloomfield launched the Votergram service based on The Parable of the Sower. That allowed every individual Australian and organisations of Australians to directly contact each and every Member of any Parliament in Australia. Suddenly “government by the people, for the people” became a reality.

Big business has over 1,000 highly paid lobbyists working full time to make government do what it wants and it spends millions or perhaps billions making that happen.

Yet for a relatively small $120 any Australian can still directly reach and influence each Member of Parliament to persuade them to do what is needed. Some of  the messages fall on deaf ears; some MPs become interested but the message gets buried under hundreds of emails; some try to help the voter but lose interest. But some of the Votergrams are read with interest by conscientious Parliamentarians and acted on to assist the voter and do what is wanted. They can help move metaphorical mountains.

That way Australians have, in the past, got an operation or hospital bed for a sick or injured relative, respite care for someone disabled, a new facility for their child’s or their own school. Or on a broader scale they have had government enact environmental legislation, food safety laws, cut the road toll by 65%, stop smoking on commercial airlines, fund community pharmacies to the extent of $1.5 billion a year and keep the NSW snowfields available for community ski lodges.

What Greg and the Votergrams organisation did not know in 1986 but does know now, is that democracy depends on continuous input from the voters themselves. That is because they have elected to parliament “Representatives” not “leaders”, though some MPs with leadership skills will become leaders. To represent the voters well, each representative needs to know what is wanted because if they do not know what people want, they cannot do it.

Because parliament is a voting forum even though not all decisions require a vote, it is essential for voters to contact every MP individually to ensure that they do know what that voter wants done.

Democracy is a magnificent system of government, but unlike a monarchy or dictatorship, it allows and depends on voter input to guide what it does.

If you do not do that, someone else will and their goals may be strictly personal gain rather than a fair society. Australian Government can be and is, guided by those voters who use Votergrams.

Politicians are not the rogues painted by the media to whip up controversy. They are ordinary Australians trying to do the very difficult job of pleasing the vast majority of 17 million people.

You can do your bit by using Votergrams to tell them what you, your community or Australia needs in respect of any matter or issue. Your power to guide government comes from your ability to vote in elections and to influence the votes of others where they count most.