My abiding memory of the election campaign almost 20 years ago was of the late Jim Anderton standing on street corners preaching to the passing traffic with a megaphone complaining how New Zealand was sending bucket loads of banking profits off to Australia.

Anderton also highlighted how Aussie customers of the same banks were treated much better than Kiwis were and he promised that if he had a say, there'd again be a locally owned bank.

The people's bank, the Bank of New Zealand, had long since be flogged off to the Aussies.

Anderton was good to his word a couple of years later, dragging the then reluctant Finance Minister Michael Cullen into Parliament's debating chamber to establish Kiwibank which today has more than eight hundred thousand customers operating out of more than 250 PostShops throughout the country and returning a profit in the June year of $115 million.


That's chump change to the four big Aussie owned Banks, the ANZ, the ASB, the BNZ and Westpac which last year made just under five billion.

To put their profits into perspective. They've grown by 75 percent over the past decade while at the same time this country's GDP rose by just 23 percent!

So against that background the megamouth Shane Jones, the prince of the provinces, is peeved at the banks for pulling the plug in the provinces.

Over the past couple of years the ANZ, BNZ and Westpac have closed 50 branches as phones and keyboards have taken over the transactions.

If you listen to the Bankers' Association 70 percent fewer people are now going down to the local outlet with the average customer only visiting the bank once or twice a year.

But none of that washes with Jones, who's accompanying the Prime Minister to dole out the dosh in Gisborne today.

He reckons they have a social responsibility to rural New Zealand where more of the old codgers are moving to and aren't interested in the highfalutin sophistication of the cyber world.

Jones says he'll be having a chat to the Reserve Bank Governor to see whether he could make getting a banking licence dependent providing a rural service.


Yeah well it's not the central banker's job to instruct trading banks to run unprofitable outlets simply to keep people happy in the Beehive and appease the pensioners' lack of proficiency, even if they can clearly afford it.

Still it seems when the muscle is being flexed by New Zealand First it's not to be trifled with.

Grant Robertson, who's actually the minister who is mandated to talk to the Reserve Bank, said through a spokeswoman, Jones has raised an issue that's important to some rural communities and he'll have a look at.

He'd be well advised to look but not to touch.