Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Matters of Public Importance
Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry
As somebody who spent a long time in the banking and financial services sector before coming into this place, I have to say that the revelations of the royal commission are very disappointing and disheartening. To see that the profession of banking has stooped to levels that it has is, indeed, a disappointment. I hope that, out of this royal commission, the banking industry takes a good, hard look at the decisions it's made and the things it has done to ensure that what we've seen illuminated through the royal commission process is not repeated.
As I reflect on the many former colleagues who are no longer in the banking industry and the discussions that I've had with some of them, we all agree on one thing: the notion of banking built on relationships with customers that we started with in the banks in the early eighties is today, to all intents and purposes, dead. We see instead a banking sector that, sadly, is no longer run by professional bankers who have an interest in their customers' welfare and the longevity of those relationships. We see a banking industry populated by managers with professional degrees and educational experience who have never, ever worked on the shop floor in the branch. The days of a branch manager being able to meet with their clients, discuss their needs and come up with an appropriate solution for their circumstances and work with them through difficult times doesn't appear to exist anymore. That's an enormous indictment on the banking industry today, and I think that has been well and truly shown in the report from the royal commission and the evidence that was provided to the royal commission through nearly 10,000 submissions.
But, as has been touched on by a number of my colleagues in their previous contributions, it's important to reflect on what this government has been doing to ensure that the things that are occurring in the banking sector, which we know are impacting on outcomes for consumers, are being addressed sooner rather than later. It's important to note that even the Law Council of Australia came out the other day and made the very important point that we have to go through a process of ensuring that the legislation we need in order to implement the recommendations is properly considered and properly done. Things are being done and have been done. We've created, I think importantly, AFCA, the one-stop shop for financial complaints. The member for Herbert in her contribution touched on those who have unresolved issues with the banks. We've made it clear that we've given AFCA the ability to go back 10 years—the time frame that the royal commission went back through—to consider claims by those who believe they have been wronged by the banks and to have their cases heard. I think that's critically important. The other important thing is that AFCA now has the ability to make binding decisions on the parties involved.
We have also seen the removal of excess credit card charges, simplified calculation of credit interest and, importantly, I think, the ban on unsolicited offers on credit card increases. There a range of other issues which I think are incredibly important, given the context I painted before about the banking industry being populated by managers and professionals, not bankers, including the Banking Executive Accountability Regime. The regime seeks to ensure that we hold the executives of the banks accountable for the decisions they make. Far too often we have seen executives and senior officers of companies that have done the wrong thing escape sanction or punishment.
We also know that the royal commissioner has made recommendations to ASIC on a range of matters, and I think it's incredibly important that we see those go through to fruition. It is important, too, to ensure that we have the proper standards in the financial advice sector. So we are taking action, and we will continue to do so. (Time expired)