THE CASE FOR A ROYAL COMMISSION REMAINS URGENT

The Senate has today acted where the Prime Minister has been too weak to act by passing legislation that would establish a Commission of Inquiry into Australia’s Banking and Financial Services.

In the House of Representatives this afternoon, Government members blocked the progress of this legislation. Shamefully, the Member for Dawson George Christensen – who claims to support an inquiry into the banks – sided with the Government.

George Christensen talks a big game in Queensland, but as soon as he’s in Canberra he does whatever Malcolm Turnbull tells him to do.

Malcolm Turnbull has George Christensen on a short leash – it’s so short, he can’t even cross the floor of the parliament to support a commission of inquiry into Australia’s banks.

When Mr Christensen returns to Mackay this weekend, he should explain to his constituents why he did the exact opposite of what he promised.

Labor maintains our position that the Turnbull Government should establish a Royal Commission into Australia’s banks but we have supported this legislation due to the complete failure of leadership from the Prime Minister to establish one.

Labor will continue to do everything we can to get to the bottom of the systemic failures and cultural issues within financial services sector, ensure that consumers are protected from the rip-offs and scandals of the past and that Australians banking and financial system remains strong, profitable and well led.

Under Malcolm Turnbull the big banks will get a tax cut but under Bill Shorten they will get a Royal Commission.

On the Turnbull Government’s watch the list of scandals and investigations into the banks continues to grow. In the past year more than $300 million has been coughed up by the big banks in fines or compensation for fraud, misleading conduct, illegal conduct or breaching consumer protections.

In the last month we have learnt that;

• The Banking Executive Accountability regime will not protect consumers as it will be limited to poor prudential outcomes only – these new  powers would not have prevented the scandals that have ruined so many people’s lives in the past and it won’t protect them going forward.

• The Government’s new ‘one-stop-shop’ complaints authority will not have any new or additional powers that existing disputes resolution bodies don’t already have. 

• The banks are not adhering to unfair contracts terms legislation, with the Small Business Ombudsman finding that not one small business loan written by the big banks since November is compliant with these laws. 

• The Small Business Ombudsman is now investigating potential systemic issues in relation to the takeover of Bankwest. 

• ASIC has concerns about the delays in reporting potential breaches to the regulator by the banks 

• ASIC has launched a special investigation into loan fraud.

• ASIC is investigating insurers for false and misleading and unconscionable conduct in relation to add-on insurance products.

• The Government is dragging its feet on new penalties and rules for bank bill swap rate rigging and looks set to miss the 2017 winter sittings timeframe for introduction set by the RBA, Treasury, APRA and ASIC. 

• Other legislation has been delayed including reforms to Small Amount Credit Contracts (Payday Loans) an ASIC product intervention power,  and much needed credit card reforms

• The Government has failed to update and finalise the ASIC Statement of Expectations which now hasn’t been updated since 2014. 

THURSDAY, 15 JUNE 2017


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