Friday, 15 October 2010

Better than a lottery - Xenophon should give it a rest

Nick Xenophon is fast becoming Australia's wowser in chief and a boring one to boot. Just mention the word gamble and the South Australian Senator starts yapping in anger like one of Pavlov's dogs. The latest victim of a Xenophon attack is the Bank of Queensland which today announced an Australian version of the Her Majesty's British Treasury's National Savings Premium Bonds.
Since April 1956 the British Treasury has offered small savers the option of investing their money in a way where, instead of the pittance paid in savings bank interest, there is the chance of winning a major prize. There is the advantage that, unlike a lottery ticket, the punters do not lose their stake which can be withdrawn at any time with the accumulated money that would otherwise go on interest forming the Premium Bond prize pool. The amount invested rose from £4 billion in 1994 to £40 billion in 2008 from people having an innocent flutter.

The Bank of Queensland is preparing to give its customers a new bank account that offers a similar monthly lottery draw instead of an interest rate. "With Save To Win, customers will earn a small interest rate on their savings. However some of the interest that our Save To Win Account holders would normally earn on a savings account goes into a cash prize pool," the bank's announcement states. "Customers can win at least $30,000 worth of cash prizes every month, including one major $20,000 prize!"
The announcement was quickly criticised by consumer group Choice and anti-gambling advocate Senator Nick Xenophon, among others. "I cannot believe the Bank of Queensland is trying to turn itself into a casino," Senator Xenophon said. "The one safe bet in all of this is that these new accounts will make the Bank of Queensland wealthier, and investors poorer.""
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