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Wednesday, 7 March 2001
Page: 25345

Mr RONALDSON (7:55 PM) —I am pleased to have a full audience here tonight to hear the matters I am about to raise. I will not mention the name of my constituent, suffice to say that he operates a newsagency and lotto agency in my electorate and lives outside the major areas. He sent me a letter the other day about another imposition from one of the big four banks. It is called a `cash handling fee for businesses'. Those businesses that deposit more than $3,000 cash with the Commonwealth Bank are going to be charged a rate of 0.25 per cent on the amount of cash over the $3,000 threshold.

Mr Slipper —Why?

Mr RONALDSON —Good question. The issue here is that my constituent, with the nature of his business, has no choice but to deposit cash. It is not a matter of choice; the nature of his business dictates that he deposits cash. He gave me a rundown of his current monthly bank charges—it is quite horrific. I will go through the monthly figures: a loan service fee of about $55, an overdraft line fee of about $84, a CBA merchant fee of about $95.10—

Mr Slipper —Which bank?

Mr RONALDSON —The Commonwealth Bank. There is a CBA POS fee, I think it is, of $188.30; CBA Quick Line—one of the recommendations to my constituent was to use things like Quick Line, which he is using but there is always a fee attached, and it is not helping him—$8.25; an account service fee of $127.50; and an overdraft fee of $120. The grand total is $678.15 per month for a small business operator. Quite frankly, I am not surprised that the banks have come in for the shellacking they have received over the last two years. It is just grab, grab, grab by the banks with no thought for a small country business which operates in cash. They are forcing this gentleman and his wife to pay further fees.

That is the bad news. The better news is that Vodafone have just been awarded a Commonwealth tender for $25 million called `Mobiles on highways' initiative. My press release states:

They will provide continuous mobile phone coverage using GSM technology along 9,425 kilometres on 11 of Australia's major highways, including the Western Highway in my electorate.

A mobile service along the highways is good news.

Before I finish tonight, I cannot let the comments of the member for Scullin—an absolutely honourable gentleman; I am the first to admit that—

Mr Slipper —He was wrong tonight.

Mr RONALDSON —He was wrong on the comments he made about Centrelink and people being removed from benefits. The great irony about this is that, under the Labor Party, it was one strike and you are out. When the coalition came into government, we changed the legislation, which was supported by the Labor Party. The two main reasons for someone losing a benefit are: (1) failing to declare income; and (2) failing to attend interviews. This is not an unfair system. It is far fairer than the Labor system. I am disappointed that my friend and colleague the honourable member for Scullin has not acknowledged that.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 8 p.m., the debate is interrupted.