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The chief executive of ME Bank, Jamie McPhee, has resigned, two and a half months after drawing customer anger over home loan redraws.

ME Bank slashed thousands of dollars from the amount an estimated 20,000 customers could redraw from their home loans. Customers complained that they had been given little or no warning, with some particularly angry because they were counting on the money to help them during the coronavirus crisis.

The bank backflipped, and McPhee apologised, a week later.

ME Bank chairman James Evans said McPhee “made a significant contribution to the Bank over the last 10 and a half years, transforming the scale and extent of ME’s retail offering to customers”.

“Notably, ME has continued to achieve primacy in customer satisfaction, based on Roy Morgan banking research,” he said.

“Importantly, Jamie has steered the Bank through significant change in the industry and the macro economic environment. Jamie leaves with our thanks and best wishes for the future.”

McPhee said that “after 10 and a half years at ME, I am looking forward to taking some time out before considering what I want to do next”.

“The timing is right for me and its right for the bank,” he said.

He will continue to serve until the end of the month, after which chief financial officer Adam Crane will serve as CEO while the board looks for a permanent replacement.

Australia’s barley industry feels it may have borne the brunt of “a fracture” in the relationship with China, representatives of GrainGrowers have told a parliamentary inquiry.

David McKeon, chief executive officer of the industry body, told an inquiry into diversifying Australia’s trade and investment profile that China’s decision to impose steep tariffs on barley from Australia in May had effectively put a $1.5bn market “out of reach overnight for Australian farmers and exporters”.

Brett Hosking, the chair of GrainGrowers who gave evidence during the same session today, said the allegations about subsidies and “dumping” of products were unfounded. He told the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth:

In terms of the allegations around subsidies, we know we’re the least subsidised farmers in the world. Sometimes we hold that as too much of a badge of honour, I think. Sometimes, perhaps, we should be looking at more strategic support from government.

Hosking said the industry was working with Chinese authorities in a bid to resolve the current dispute over barley, but added:

The real sense that we’ve had throughout this whole process, and it’s been an 18-month-long process, is that there seems to be maybe a bit of a fracture in the relationship between Australia and China, and that could be for a whole lot of reasons and they go way above my head, but whatever it is I feel that perhaps barley has borne a bit of the brunt of that fractured relationship. I guess thinking strategically about what’s next is what we focus on in the industry – I actually think we are looking to government for some real targeted support in helping us develop new markets.

The Guardian

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