House debates

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Questions without Notice

Banking and Financial Services

2:55 pm

Photo of Clare O'NeilClare O'Neil (Hotham, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Assistant Treasurer. The Assistant Treasurer is responsible for financial services, including the big banks. Can the Assistant Treasurer confirm that, instead of cracking down on misconduct in the banking sector, he voted against a royal commission 26 times and he is now exploiting the victims of banking misconduct by using the royal commission as an opportunity to raise funds for the Liberal Party?

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Leader of the House, on a point of order?

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm not sure why the latter half of that question is in order. It's also a very unfortunate slur and smear on the Assistant Treasurer. I would ask her to withdraw—

Government members interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Could the Leader of the House just pause for a second? I'm trying to hear the Leader of the House without those behind him interjecting.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

I think the phraseology of the member for Hotham should be withdrawn. It was a slur on the Assistant Treasurer. The second half of the question is not within the Assistant Treasurer's responsibilities and, therefore, is not in order.

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

When I seek to hear from the Leader of the House and the Manager of Opposition Business, could I just say to those interjecting behind them that they really don't help the cause of the person at the despatch box who is seeking to make the point of order. The Manager of Opposition Business, on the point of order?

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Opposition Business (House)) Share this | | Hansard source

The questions go directly to the use of the minister's ministerial authority and the role that he has with financial services. They refer to him using that office, with respect to the royal commission, quite specifically for a fundraiser. This has also appeared online as an article—

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Manager of Opposition Business won't introduce new material. We're just simply adjudicating on the question. It's not an opportunity—

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Opposition Business (House)) Share this | | Hansard source

Quite simply, what the question asks is whether or not he has used his ministerial authority in this way, instead of looking after the victims of the banks.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Leader of the House, further to the point of order?

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Firstly, that's not what the question asked, and now it is being changed by the Manager of Opposition Business. Secondly, the responsibility for the royal commission is in the portfolio of the Treasurer, not the Assistant Treasurer, and therefore the question is misdirected to the Assistant Treasurer. It should be answered, if at all, by the Treasurer. It's simply a political ruse and an attempt to smear the Assistant Treasurer. For that reason alone, it should be ruled out.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm ready to rule on the matter, having listened to both the Leader of the House and the Manager of Opposition Business. I'm certainly not comfortable with the language that just makes assertions, as it did—I'm really not—and those on my left wouldn't be comfortable if that sort of language was directed back at them. That language shouldn't be in a question. The first part of the question is clearly in order, which was about whether the minister voted in a certain way. I'm going to allow the minister to address that part of it and caution future questions.

2:59 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for her question. Just to put to rest any doubt as to the issue at stake, Fairfax has reported that I was invited by the member for Fisher to speak—

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

No, the Assistant Treasurer—I've ruled out the second part of the question that relates to it on the basis that it was traducing his character. If the assistant minister wants to refer to the matters that I've ruled out of order, I don't think that's a good idea. I've ruled them out of order quite deliberately as a result of their language and because of the improper motives that are implied.

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr Speaker. This is the government that instituted the royal commission. This is the government that put the royal commission into place. Let me give some perspective to those opposite. I did all of the post-GFC banking inquiries. I did the Ripoll inquiry into post FOFA. On all of those areas, in all of those issues, not once did those opposite raise this issue. In fact, 34 days before this government was elected in 2013, the Leader of the Opposition made the point that our banks were well regulated and well structured, six years after the GFC, after $60 billion or $70 billion was wiped off the balance sheets of individual Australians, as we saw through all of the post-GFC bank inquiries—and those opposite did nothing. They did nothing on the other side.

Yet what this government has done is legion. Even last week we saw penalties being increased 500 per cent in terms of criminal penalties and 400 per cent in terms of civil penalties, and Labor wanted to vote against that. For six years—

Ms O'Neil interjecting

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

those opposite dealt with the post-GFC banking inquiries and didn't move once when it came to penalties—not a single time when it came to penalties. Well, this government is acting.

Ms O'Neil interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Hotham is now warned.

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

Penalties have now increased tenfold for corporations, and criminal penalties fivefold, for those who are seeking to defraud Australian people, corporations and small businesses.

Ms O'Neil interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Hotham has been warned.

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

That's what this government is doing. We're acting. We're not sitting back and doing nothing. This government instituted the royal commission. Those opposite, after the GFC, simply put a parliamentary inquiry in place. So, if those opposite want to look at what they did after the GFC compared to what this government has done, bring it on, I say. Bring on what we have done on this side in dealing with the phenomenal issues we've seen, the malfeasance we've seen. Bring it on!

If those opposite want to talk about superannuation, let's have a discussion about protecting your super, where we want to save, right now, five million Australians from being overcharged on insurance, and those opposite aren't supporting us. There are 2.4 million Australians with two super accounts paying two lots of insurance. There are 44,000 Australians with five super accounts paying five lots of insurance. Why don't those opposite stop posturing and come and join us in helping to protect vulnerable Australians?