Woke Aussie banks buy into #MeToo

by BETTINA ARNDT – IN THE United Kingdom, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt recently announced the government will take action over banks blacklisting customers who hold controversial views. 

This occurred after leading Brexiter Nigel Farage claimed his bank account had been shut down without explanation. 

This whole exercise appears to be simply the latest weapon for targeting men, introduced without government oversight, parliamentary scrutiny or community consultation.

There’s growing evidence that banking systems are now being used to exert social and political control, with the freezing of accounts of Canadian truckers and similar action by Paypal and other payment gateways now freezing accounts of journalists.

Meanwhile, here in Australia, it’s men who are now in the firing line.


National Australia Bank (NAB) has announced it plans to “debank customers,” which means cutting off those found to be financial abusers – suspending, cancelling or denying such people access to their accounts.

How will the banks prove they are dealing with actual perpetrators of this abuse? No problem. Believe the woman!

Here’s the Australian Banking Association (ABA) explaining that their guidelines on financial abuse specify no evidence is required if a woman claims her partner is an abuser: “The guideline recognises that banks don’t need legal evidence of domestic violence, such as an Apprehended Violence Order, to be able to offer assistance to customers.”

And what angry divorcing woman could resist destroying her ex-hubby’s credit rating?

This ploy is not yet implemented but rather simply recommended by the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety report, Designed to Disrupt, which maps out the plans to use banks to tackle financial abuse.

The authors see this as a great idea.

“Consider the potential to develop a process to make an adverse credit report for a perpetrator of financial abuse which can be made concurrent to correction for victim-survivor, so that there is a material consequence that impacts on the ability to get future credit,” writes the author, social science professor Catherine Fitzpatrick from the University of NSW.

That one is for the future, but right now, we have NAB cutting off men’s accounts, with CommBank lining up to do so and Westpac likely to follow suit.

These institutions never actually admit that the new apparatus is primarily targeting men.

But even though Ms Fitzpatrick in The Conversation claims about 1.6m Australian women and 745,000 men have experienced economic or financial abuse, her article makes clear the banks’ true intentions: “Challenging the acceptance of violence against women is essential to respond to specific gendered drivers of violence.”

The carefully orchestrated campaign to tackle financial abuse has been promoted by key feminist organisations.

CommBank gave $500,000 a few years ago for research on financial abuse to UNSW’s Gendered Violence Research Network – the name is a bit of a giveaway.


Anna Bligh, the CEO of the Australian Banking Association, argues financial abuse is “an enabler for partners to keep women trapped in abusive and often dangerous relationships”.

Naturally, bank promotions on this subject never feature any male victims but tend to include numerous photographs of miserable, downtrodden women.

Normally, restricting a customer’s access to bank accounts would require a very high bar, such as evidence of criminality.

But as this legal analysis from the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety points out, this is coming down the pipeline with new coercive control laws “which criminalises abusive behaviour, including economic abuse”.

That might just give the banks the muscle they need to justify their actions, which are certainly pushing the envelope when it comes to appropriate behaviour for a financial institution.

Clearly, the banks’ lawyers believe they have found a way through any regulatory or legal hurdles.

Yet a former senior banking lawyer raised concerns to me about what the banks are doing.

“How do these banks defend themselves from charges that these are unfair contract terms in relation to financial products which are banned by the ASIC Act?” he said.

“Under recent amendments to unfair contract terms legislation to take effect in November 2023, a person such as a bank cannot include an unfair term in a standard form contract or rely on one that is already in place. Significantly increased penalties will apply for breach.


“One would have thought that these unilaterally imposed new terms which impose draconian consequences on affected consumers based solely on the bank’s view of the facts, with no apparent rights to appeal or prevent the action, are the very definition of unfair contract terms.”

Note there is an important issue buried in the banks’ financial abuse initiatives, and that is elder abuse.

Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse—Australian Institute of Family Studies research shows two per cent of elders have suffered financial abuse in the past 12 months.

This compares to 1.6 per cent of people suffering this abuse from a cohabiting partner, as found in the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s Personal Safety survey. But clearly, most of the banks have other priorities.

One amusing side note. Even though new criminal coercive control laws might be needed to justify these new regulations, it is acknowledged this territory comes with the problem that women could also be identified as perpetrators.

A CommBank document on legal responses to financial abuse warns about the “misidentification” of financial abuse victims – which is code for women being charged instead of men.

There’s a good reason for this concern. Psychologists at the University of Central Lancashire, who carried out the major research available on male victims of coercive control, report financial abuse as a major issue for many of these male victims.


“Half of the male victims had their earnings controlled as a pattern of abuse which in some cases led to men not being able to purchase food or clothing. Men were also expected to take on the burden of all household finances as almost two-thirds of the female perpetrators refused to contribute to household bills and over half refused to work even if able to.”

The report added that in some situations, male victims were prevented from going to work, while nearly one-third were forced to go even when they were unwell.

Hmm, can you imagine the banks cutting off the accounts of women who refuse to work or contribute to household bills? That’s clearly not going to happen.

This whole exercise appears to be simply the latest weapon for targeting men, introduced without government oversight, parliamentary scrutiny or community consultation.PC

Bettina Arndt

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH: NAB CEO Ross McEwen (courtesy The Australian)
RE-PUBLISHED: This article was originally published by The Epoch Times on July 27, 2023. Re-used with permission.

1 thought on “Woke Aussie banks buy into #MeToo

Comments are closed.