'We need to look at this' - Finance expert suspicious as Aussie banks rake in $5 billion from Kiwis

A finance expert has signalled his suspicion at the "enormous" profit the big four Australian banks are making off New Zealanders, indicating a royal commission into our banking sector may be needed.

Head of KiwiSaver provider Simplicity Sam Stubbs says the Aussie banks are making over $5 billion in profit after tax annually off New Zealanders, $1000 per person, but it's unclear why it's so large.

Mr Stubbs said he was unsure if Kiwis were bing ripped off by the banks, but said a royal commission into the sector like that undertaken in Australia could uncover similar malpractice in New Zealand.

"In Australia a whole lot of people were saying we don't need a royal commission, we don't need it. Actually when they had the royal commission, everyone's apologised from the Prime Minister down and said 'boy we needed this earlier'," Mr Stubbs said.

"I hope the politicians in New Zealand don't make the same mistake of delaying and delaying this, because with a sector that's making that much money, and so important to the financial health of all New Zealanders, we need to have a look.

Data has actually shown the big four Australian banks are making more money out of Kiwis than Australians, and they are 26 per cent more profitable in New Zealand than at home.

"We need to have a really good look and just make sure this industry is just behaving properly and appropriately," Mr Stubbs said.

"That profit number indicates that it might not be, let's have a look."

Mr Stubbs said a royal inquiry in the New Zealand banking sector would achieve two "amazing" things.

You would get banking chief executives before oath, unable to lie because it's a criminal offence - a condition that exposed several new scandals in Australia.

And, you would provide whistle blowers like bank tellers would be provided name protection and confidentiality to speak candidly.

But Mr Stubbs says the New Zealand banking sector is already lobbying and claiming it's not necessary.

"It's interesting isn't it. If the industry really had nothing to hide, wouldn't they be welcoming this commission, wouldn't they say let's get this sunlight in there, let's open the bonnet, let's have a look at what's going on.

"It's exactly the opposite of what's going on.

"They're making a lot of noise right now to not have a banking inquiry. It leads me to believe that's exactly why we should have one."

Data has revealed the big four Australian banks are making more money out of Kiwis than Australians, with the reasons unclear. Source: Breakfast

Waikeria Prison expansion is ‘unfortunately’ needed and Government is ignoring the reality of high inmate numbers – Simon Bridges

National leader Simon Bridges said this morning the yet to be approved Waikeria prison is "unfortunately" in desperate need - and his years as a Crown prosecutor revealed to him why.

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast today, Mr Bridges said while Justice Minister Andrew Little's ambition to reduce the prison population by a third was "laudible", it was driven by a "philosophical" stance that ignores the reality of New Zealand's inmate numbers.

"The way Andrew Little's talking about doing this is by softening up the bail laws, the sentencing laws, the parole laws," Mr Bridges said.

"I think that just makes our communities less safe, so that's why we said, with the prison population what it's doing, you do need this new prison. We (the former National government) were funding it."

"Unfortunately, no one likes more prisons but they need to build another one, a significant one."

The National Party leader also pointed out the safety of prisoners and prison officers working in "potentially inhumane conditions", was at stake if they continued in the small, century old Waikeria prison facilities as they stand.

The Labour-led Government is yet to approve an expansion to Waikeria Prison in Waikato, which would see it grow from 1250-beds to 3000.

Mr Bridges also said calls for the Bail Amendment Act 2013 to be repealed, as the country's prison population swelled to over 10,000 in 2017, was not a reasonable solution to reducing inmate numbers.

"I'm a Crown prosecutor by trade, I've done hundreds of cases, and what I can tell you is it's very hard, if you want to put it this way, to get into jail, right," he said.

"You have to do serious violence, serious drug dealing, or very serious sexual offending. 

"I think you do have to send your most serious offenders to jail. That's where we're at with the law at the moment, I don't support softening that up."

The National leader said his years as a crown prosecutor revealed "you do have to send your most serious offenders to jail". Source: Breakfast


More wild weather likely after 3500 lightning strikes overnight

More wild weather is likely for the country this week, MetService says, after multiple lightning strikes were registered before 10pm last night.

Lightning battered the West Coast of the South Island, as well as parts of the high country, with Transpower recording almost 3500 strikes to 10pm.

MetService said this morning that some thunderstorms are likely to continue this morning, with the most likely areas being Nelson Tasman, the northern West Coast, the Kapiti Coast, Taranaki and western Waikato.

The front which moved over the South Island last night is weakening over the North Island today, but a strong wind watch remains in place for Hawke's Bay south of Hastings until 1pm.

Road snowfall warnings are in place until 11am today for Milford Road (SH 94), Crown Range Road, Lindis Pass, Arthur's Pass and Lewis Pass.

SH94 - Milford Sound to Te Anau - is currently closed due to snowfall.

In the main centres today, Auckland can expect occasional showers and a high of 19C, Wellington mostly fine and gusty with a high of 16C, and Christchurch mainly fine with morning showers and a high of 13C.

Full a complete forecast for your region, see our weather page here.

A map showing lightning strikes over New Zealand on the evening of Sunday, May 20 2018
A map showing lightning strikes over New Zealand on the evening of Sunday, May 20 2018 Source: MetService