The last three days of bank CEO committee hearings have been another exercise in diversion from the real problems facing bank customers and have proven beyond doubt that only a Royal Commission into the sector will provide the scrutiny and accountability that's needed. 

The hearings saw CEO after CEO appear before the committee and refuse to answer direct questions, release important reports or take genuine responsibility for the failings of their banks. 

Whilst many questions were left unanswered, the hearings did establish the following: 

  • NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn, revealed that 1,138 employees had been disciplined for breaches of their code of practice;

  • The CBA boss, Ian Narev, reminded us that 40,000 customers had been charged for financial advice that never actually received the advice;

  • The CBA also admitted that no executives had lost their jobs over the CommInsure scandal, the rate rigging investigation or the financial advice scandal;

  • NAB and CBA brushed off reports of former staff saying that they had been subjected to intense pressure to push unsuitable products on customers;  
  • All CEOs refused to make public the number of executives earning above $1 million;
  • Westpac doesn’t allow customers the option to cancel credit cards online so that they can ‘have a conversation’ with customers and no doubt convince them to keep cards or sell new products; and

  • The Australian Bankers’ Association refused to disclose how much the banks are spending on their slick advertising campaign, but admitted that Labor’s calls for a Royal Commission had “galvanised” the sector to make reforms.

Bringing the banks to Canberra for a three hour chat is completely inadequate and is merely a diversion from the real issues facing banking customers.

Malcolm Turnbull should stop protecting the banks and establish a Royal Commission now. 

Labor will continue to fight for a Royal Commission because only a Royal Commission will provide the scrutiny that's needed to get to the bottom of poor banking culture and provide independent recommendations to restore confidence in the banking sector.


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.