Finance Minister Grant Robertson has waded into the Reserve Bank's contentious bank capital proposals to remind "all parties" that they are still being consulted on in a process that requires "mature debate".
"I am calling on all interested participants to listen to and work with each other constructively as this work is carried out. The aim is to strike a balance which ensures a safe and efficient banking system that New Zealanders need and deserve," Robertson said in quotes issued by his office rather than as a press statement.
His comments follow extensive media coverage of suggestions by the ANZ Bank that it may be "reviewing and considering" its New Zealand operations if banks are required to hold twice as much capital on their balance sheets as is required under the RBNZ's current regime.
Robertson stressed that New Zealand banks were "indeed very profitable, so much so that the Australian owners of some of them are among the most profitable banks in the world."
"Our banks are generally safe and secure. But we must always be looking at whether there are ways to do better in terms of security and safety and to keep the worst from happening.
"I want to remind all parties that we are still in a consultation process. All New Zealanders want a safe banking sector that supports our economy. Safe and efficient banks are important for New Zealand families, our communities and our businesses."
Robertson also reminded all parties that the bank capital review was not of his making and "is being undertaken by the Reserve Bank as the independent regulator".
"That independence is legislated through the Reserve Bank Act. The goal of this exercise by the Reserve Bank is to ensure New Zealand has a safe and efficient banking system, which gives support and confidence to all New Zealanders," Robertson said.