Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Income of Ralph Norris

I heard on a news show the other day that Ralph Norris, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank in Australia earns a tidy $22m NZ. I thought I would check out whether that is indeed the case, because I was stunned. And it most certainly is, this link telling us he is the best paid CEO in this region, getting $16m Aus a year (

At one level we may think that this is an Australian issue, but it is not, as NZ banks are in the main owned overseas. So for example, the Australia New Zealand Bank (ANZ) owns the National Bank and the NZ ANZ, which are now merged. The National Australia Bank (NAB) owns the BNZ (Bank of NZ). According to Allan Bollard, now, 85% of NZ banks are owned by Australian banks ( The Commonwealth Bank owns the ASB, where Emma and I do our banking. So, what the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank gets is an important issue, as he runs 'our' bank.

One can argue that the income is justified as that is the market. He is paid to ensure a profit and we benefit as bankers with his bank by the quality of his leadership. The bank will say, well he is worth it. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys, bla bla bla. Yeah right.

Perhaps I am naive, but it is an abomination and makes me feel sick. How on earth can a $22m income be justified for anyone? He leads an organisation that takes money from good hard working Kiwis and Aussies. These people get some return, but not a lot. And the boss creams off $22m. At the same time, the gap between the rich and poor grows. There are people all over Queensland, Victoria, and NZ suffering in the aftermath of the horror of natural events. There are good people working for the minimum wage in NZ of $13 and in Aus $15 and hour. Many of these people simply did not have the advantages that come with wealth and opportunity. Yet, a guy who runs a bank gets this – and from other people's money. Ridiculous!

What about Ralph taking a cool $1mill a year (that's plenty for anyone), and the rest distributed to those who invest in the bank. The banking system is a mess.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not picking on the guy personally, good on him. It is the system he is embedded in and serving that is screwed. I shouldn't pick him out as this is a problem all over our nation. In my view almost everything is overpriced. Call anyone to fix something in your house, it's a hundred bucks gone. Go the dentist, take out a mortgage. Buy petrol, make sure the credit card limit is massive. When someone is creaming this sort of level of income, it keeps forcing up all incomes, as 'that is the market.' How long can this go on?

Perhaps this is the real centre of the answer to the essential problem of the west. Jesus said you cannot serve God and money, our culture serves money. Amos would have had a few things to say about this I should think were he here. I think it will all come crashing down. It almost did a year or so ago. One can feel it coming, because this cannot go on.



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