Ongoing scandal and systemic issues within Australia’s big banks have reconfirmed the dire need for a Banking Royal Commission.

Fronting the House Economics Committee banking inquiry on Friday, National Australia Bank (NAB) chief executive Andrew Thorburn confirmed mistakes had been made and that bankers “sometimes don’t get [it] right”.

Today’s testimony coupled with a seemingly endless supply of questionable conduct proved nothing has changed and it’s business as usual for the big banks.

What we have witnessed today is the fine art of ducking and weaving by the NAB chief executive who shared little information about the cultural issues in his bank and answered direct questions with long-winded and unrelated answers.

Committee members asked direct questions, expecting direct answers but all that was provided in response was waffle and attempts to convince customers that all is well with the bank’s culture.

It’s concerning that NAB has owned up to the fact that 1,138 employees or almost 3 per cent of its total workforce has faced disciplinary action for breaches of the code of conduct with five senior executives facing action and two being dismissed.

It appears that the big banks are either unable or unwilling to stop their shonky behaviour. These bankers are not living in the real world.

Time and time again it appears the only way to ensure the banks are acting ethically is to expose their behaviour in the media. This is not a sign of good banking culture.

Labor will continue to fight for a Banking Royal Commission because we know that it is the only thing that can deliver the systematic, structural and cultural change that the banking and financial services sector needs.


Senator Katy Gallagher is Labor's Shadow Minister for Small Business and Financial Services. 

This is a joint release with Matt Thistletwaite, Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury.