TWO Ballarat residents who invested thousands in collapsed non-bank lender Banksia are spearheading a Ballarat support and action group that would petition the government for aid.
Robert Lea had $217,000 tied up in Banksia Securities when it went into receivership last year. His friend Keith Pitman had $20,000.
They are calling on the government to step in and assist debenture holders on the grounds that its agencies, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) “failed in their duties” to protect investors.
The two men want to form a support and action group for Ballarat residents affected by the collapse, following the inaugural meeting of a Warrnambool-based Banksia support group this week.
“My aim is to get a petition going to lobby the federal government to reimburse the investors,” Mr Pitman said.
“The government agencies APRA and ASIC failed in their duties, failed miserably.”
Mr Pitman said there could be 3000 investors in Ballarat, many of them elderly, falling back onto the welfare system.
“As someone said to me ‘it smells like a bank, it looks like a bank, it acted like a bank’. To the basic Joe on the street, it was a bank,” Mr Pitman said.
“My young son is a helicopter pilot and I had $45,000 in there on his behalf. It hurts losing his money. You think it’s got to be safe. How wrong we were.”
Mr Lea is calling for the average age of debenture holders to be calculated and released.
He believes many of those impacted are vulnerable and elderly members of the community.
Mr Lea said a local support group would provide a contact point for sharing information and ideas, and he called for its immediate formation.