Heather du Plessis-Allan: Kiwibank's ethical stance is driving divisions

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 8 Sep 2020, 4:30PM
(Photo / File)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Kiwibank's ethical stance is driving divisions

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 8 Sep 2020, 4:30PM

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fan of the idea of Kiwibank. 

I always thought it was a good thing to have a Kiwi-owned bank that would keep its profits in New Zealand instead of sending them off to Australia. 

And so a few years ago, I put my money where my mouth is and opened accounts. 

But last night I read a story that has disappointed me so much that I’m now closing those accounts. 

The story is of Rose Renton. 

Rose you might remember gave her son Alex medicinal cannabis when he was in ICU in Wellington, before it was approved by the government. 

Since then, rose has become a ‘green fairy’, which is essentially a person who provides medicinal cannabis products on the black-market. 

Not recreational cannabis products to get people high. Medicinal products to ease their pain. 

Now the reason she and other green fairies do that is because it is still really hard and really expensive for a lot of people to get their hands on prescription medicinal cannabis through the regular channels. 

Because of this, Kiwibank has told her they’re closing her accounts.  This is the same bank that sponsored her award last year as a local hero for her work. 

Now, it’s entirely at Kiwibank’s discretion who it banks.  It can close her accounts if it wants to. Just like it’s going to close the accounts of liquor store owners, brothel store owners, those involved in the extraction of fossil fuels because it’s gone all moral-police on us with its Responsible Banking Policy. 

Kiwibank can say she’s breached their terms and conditions, presumably because she’s not licenced to supply these medications. That’s fine, but they can exercise discretion. Rose Renton is helping people, not harming them. 

If Kiwibank wants to set itself up as some sort of bank that is more ethical than the others because it won’t take money from certain people, it needs to get this right.  It’s already had to back down on a total ban on brothel owners because of public outrage. This call is just as bad.  

This just feels to me like a bank driving divisions.  I’d rather bank with an Australian bank than a Kiwi bank that picks and chooses which Kiwis are worthy of its services.