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Westpac faces the (Christmas) music

There's not much to celebrate at the Australian bank, despite the festive parties being back on.

It took a while to get to item one at the Westpac AGM on Thursday.

Before considering the financial reports that normally constitute the first order of business, chairman Lindsay Maxsted asked for any questions about the Austrac matter – the damning report alleging that Westpac committed money-laundering offences that enabled transfers of money linked to child abuse.


Lindsay Maxsted,

More than three hours later, the questions were still coming in.

The tone was set by Chris Schacht, a former Labor senator, who was the second to get the microphone, after the bow tie-wearing activist group Bank Warriors.

Schact said one Westpac customer who sent A$115,000 to the Philippines through the bank did so “to get access to the most vile abuse of human rights short of murder”.

“How the hell did this go on for five years, and Austrac [the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre] warned you last year and the year before? What are we going to do to the restitution of our reputation?”

There was plenty more of this.

“You being here is an affront,” said questioner number seven to Maxsted, who has said he will step down when his current term expires next year.