by Stan Clear
After a feisty wrangle, my secretary secures the only one-on-one interview afforded with ANZ CEO Mike Smith.
We step from his sea-plane onto his 190ft super-yacht Fat Face moored at the Gold Coast in Queensland’s south-east. The thin white hairs poking from under his bulging white shorts seem to bristle as he stops on the gangway to observe the other, much smaller, boats.
He swipes a fly off his chubby cheek and grabs the brim of his cap. ‘Paupers. Bloody vagrants, all of them,’ he says, just loud enough for me to hear.
I try and secure my jaw, forced open from the ostentatiousness of even the smallest of these nautical pleasure-cruisers. ‘Yeah,’ I say, shaking my head, ‘damn nuisance all these pitiful dingys clogging up the harbour like this.’
‘Sven!’ he yells impatiently to a butler standing in front of two large golden doors. ‘Is lunch ready?’
The butler’s eyebrows rise slightly as he nods at us. ‘All aboard, sir.’ Sven swings open the doors and leads us down a plush hallway.
‘Nice carpet.’ I say.
Mike Smith is quite matter-of-fact. ‘Mink.’
‘Mink carpet?’ I almost yell as I look back checking for dirty footprints or the RSPCA. We end up in a gigantic circular room. The majestic mahogany table in the centre is covered to the edges with multiple types of the highest cholesterol food available – easily enough to feed 20 people for two days. I expect an army of executives, trophy-wives and Japanese whaling bosses to stream through the other three entrances. ‘I was lead to believe this was going to be a private interview.’
Mike picks a bottle of Grange from a cluster on the table and examines the label as he reacquaints his posterior with the brass-rimmed red velvet couches that line the cabin walls. ‘We won’t be disturbed.’ He looks from the over-priced wine bottle to his servant. ‘You know I detest early 60’s wines at lunch.’
Sven remains strangely unemotional. ‘Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.’ He bows and leaves.
Our interview begins right after Mike finishes forcing a garish cake into his moosh with eight chubby fingers. His thumbs useless appendages. I point at an over-loaded plate next to the giant chocolate pavlova. ‘Is that KFC?’
Mike smears icing from his mouth and grins. ‘It’s a childhood favourite. Besides, I like acronyms. That’s why I wanted to be ANZ CEO.’
‘No. Not really. They’ve been grooming me for this gig since the late 90’s.’ His grin grew larger, bulbous cheeks almost covering his moist, beady eyes. ‘Believe it or not I had to wait to get this boat till I started at the ANZ. My last one was only 94ft.’
‘Oh no,’ I say, feigning sympathy. ‘Well, finally you’re in the real world. Speaking of which; what about the ANZ’s latest advertising slogan – We live in your world – when you’ve personally been awarded $3.15m worth of shares last November?’
Mike pokes his finger in a bowl of caviar then holds it under his nose during a long sniff. ‘Well, when it says “we” it means that most ANZ employees do just that. You know, minimum wage, struggling to get by. The tellers and all the other plebs we employ.’ He sucks fish eggs from his plump digit. ‘Well, what’s left of them anyways.’
I lean back on a silk cushion. ‘1000 people sacked as you post your highest quarterly profits on record. Do you find that a bit rich?’
‘You bet I do, sunshine. The richer the better.’ Mike leans to one side and rips out an almighty bacon-fart. ‘Aahhh.’
I then breach ANZ’s expansion overseas and if offshore jobs replacing his Australian workforce would incite a negative customer backlash.
‘Maybe. What do I care? Most dickhead customers are too shit-scared to move or change anything. Better the devil, ay? And besides, if we started acting nice and, god forbid, do the right thing; how could we possibly continue our traditionally secure business of being greed-gorged, low-life criminals. Crime pays, buddy boy. You better believe it.’
I grab a profiterole from the freshly made and untouched crockenbouche and jab it on the end of a bamboo skewer. ‘Ever wonder if the poor people revolt that you’ll end up like this? You know, head on a stick?’
Mike Smith slowly shakes his head. ‘Nuh.’
I ask Mike what he looks forward to most in his current position.
‘Retirement… The payout we’re working towards would melt your testicles.’
Having never done a hard days work in his life, he is easy to overpower. I force profiteroles into his podgy cheeks until congealed custard leaches from both nostrils. I jam the bamboo with speared French pastry into the crocodile embroided pocket of his 5XL polo shirt. I make sure he isn’t breathing, then sneak over the side and swim ashore.