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CBD Melbourne: ME Brings out a Heavy Hitter

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Mea culpa all round from ME Bank and its chief Jamie McPhee last week, after customers were left outraged by unannounced changes to redraw facilities. Then came the unwanted attention from the corporate regulator and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, which oversees the sector. – CBD Melbourne

And while ME Bank, which is owned by 26 industry super funds, was busy apologising last week, it was also lawyering up. Enter lawyer Leon Zwier, in the guise of public relations consultant.

The high-profile Arnold Bloch Liebler partner was on Thursday asking for changes and corrections to press reports which apparently “caused concern for ME customers”.

Zwier, who is currently assisting private equity outfit BGH Capital with their bid for Virgin Australia and has been on call for both Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and former Labor leader Bill Shorten, does not come cheap. Industry sources on Sunday put his hourly rate at around $1200.

Some CBD topicals may have bases such as shea butter, or oils like coconut, avocado, jojoba, or vitamin E.

McPhee and Zwier are unhappy about suggestions ME Bank removed money from accounts. Those redraw facilities allow customers to access funds accumulated after making extra mortgage repayments, usually in case of emergencies. It was those redraw funds which were removed — with no prior notice — by the bank. It meant the amount of money customers could access, in some cases tens of thousands of dollars, disappeared.

Perhaps it was that which had actually “caused concern for ME customers”…

The changes to the redraw policy were reversed by the bank on Friday.

CBD Melbourne – DOING THE NUMBERS

Urban planners and developers will no doubt be right across the good word released monthly via the industry’s august bible, Planning News. For the rest of the universe, that’s the Planning Institute of Australia’s trade rag which features “all the latest news on planning issues and events” for Victoria and Tasmania.

While we’re sure that taster is enough to send circulation through the roof, subscribers may be wondering at the absence from PN’s pages of the state shadow minister for planning, Tim Smith. In a note in the May issue, the editors took a swipe at the Kew MP for not having written for the publication since September last year.

Illustration: Matt Golding
Illustration: Matt Golding CREDIT:

They called Smith’s office, who apparently told them “articles take a long time to write, and he is very busy”.

“It’s not mandatory and I don’t expect it every month but readers were asking,” editor Bill Chandler told CBD.

Well, it has been a full agenda on High Street recently focused on the local issues, such as liberating golf courses and the possible cull of a bat colony at Yarra Bend.

Smith wasn’t happy with the editorial, telling CBD that he had written “quite a number” of articles for “that niche publication”. “I think you can see the motivation behind the disgraceful slandering misquoting of my staff,” he said. “It should be viewed as nothing but a puerile, political partisan attack.”

Chandler ran as an independent against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong at the last federal election, Smith was quick to remind us, scoring 0.68 per cent of the vote. Smith on Sunday told this column he had written five yarns for the publication during his time in the portfolio.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne, he says, has written eight.

CBD Melbourne – CAR TROUBLES

It’s Melbourne’s own white whale, the brown Dodge in Seinfeld that evaded hundreds of parking tickets from New York City cops over the years. Except on this occasion, there are two of them and they are BMWs.

Wilson Parking has failed on two occasions now to get a court order revealing the identity of the owners for not displaying a ticket more than 200 times in eight months in 2018. The car park giant, owned by Hong Kong’s billionaire Kwok family, originally took VicRoads to the magistrates court in 2018 to turn over the names of the miscreants at the Adina Hotel in Flinders Street. That application for discovery failed, with magistrate Phillip Goldberg describing the legal effort as a “fishing expedition”.

Fifteen months later, Wilson continued its demand for satisfaction across William Street at the Supreme Court, only to get knocked back again, by Justice Melinda Richards in March. The ruling casts doubt on the enforceability of debts from fees racked up against car owners by private parking operators for trespass. The court heard that the Victorian government has tried to stop VicRoads naming names to companies like Wilson.

When introducing the new law, former consumer affairs minister Jane Garrett said private operators were asking for the details of over 50,000 vehicles a year on average. Single applications would sometimes request the details of over 1000 cars.

Seinfeld’s white whale turned out to be Newman. The owners of the 2006 and 2012 Beamer sedans remain at large.Share on Facebook

This article is issued by THE AGE.

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