Senate debates

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education

3:00 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Innovation) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Finance and the Public Service (Senator Cormann) and the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education (Senator Cash) to questions without notice asked by Opposition senators today.

I note, for the people who are here in the gallery today, that they're some of the lucky few people who are going to actually see this parliament work, because what we've got is a part-time parliament going on here. We've got a government that are running away from doing the job that they should do, and they certainly should be here. We've been calling on them, as the opposition, to come in and do their job as the government and respond to the banking royal commission that was delivered by Mr Hayne.

We've all got bank accounts. We're all interacting with the banks. And for years we have seen egregious action by the banks. We saw it; we called it. We called for a banking royal commission. And while we called for that for 600 days—600 days!—you heard in Senator Cormann's responses today a few of the things that the government did to try to plug the gap that exists between their reality and the reality that you and I know, that friends and family are experiencing with greedy banks—that is, they have broken an ethical and important relationship with the Australian people. Mr Morrison ran a protection racket for his big-end-of-town mates. And now with his part-time parliament, he's continuing that behaviour of protection.

One of the 76 recommendations that Commissioner Hayne made was that grandfathered conflicted commissions for financial advice should be removed, and he said it should be done 'as soon as reasonably practicable'. Mr Morrison was the last hold out; he was the very last one in the Liberal Party who finally caved and said: 'Okay. All right. We'll go ahead with the royal commission.' He only did that after the banks sent him a letter to do it. What's he doing now? Mr Morrison and Mr Frydenberg want to kick this reform off into the never-never. They say they won't do anything about that urgent issue until 2021. So what we're seeing today is a government, which voted against a royal commission 26 times, that has the hide to come in here and say it's doing a good job in response to that royal commission into banking—banking that we interact with every single day.

We know that the royal commission and all of the stories that we heard of families and people that were profoundly impacted have revealed a sector that has been operating in a manner that puts itself ahead of people, ahead of ethics and ahead of the law. And Mr Morrison did not see that. He didn't see it before. He opposed it on 26 occasions. He held it up for 600 days. He delayed the commencement of that inquiry by 18 months. We could have legislated by now. We could have done the work to protect the Australian people if this arrogant, out-of-touch government had listened to the people of Australia, had listened to the evidence of people walking these corridors day in and day out and telling us there was something rotten in the banks. If this government had the dignity of a real government and had the sense to listen, we would've had a response to the banking royal commission long before this.

After Mr Morrison had called the action of establishing the royal commission 'regrettable' and 'a populist whinge', now we finally have the report. With the report in their hands, do you think that the government could show up to work and undertake the legislation that needs to be undertaken to give protection to the Australian people? No, they're too busy with their infighting. They're too busy with the internecine warfare going on in the family of the Liberal Party. They're fighting with the Nats. The Nats are fighting with the Nats. The Libs are fighting with the Libs, former Libs and independents. People in that party are in a state of decay. They've decided that they know better than anybody else what should happen with the banks and they've decided that they're not going to come along and do the work that the Australian people need them to do, to protect us and to protect the very underpinning of business in this country, our banking sector. We all rely on it. We all need it to be ethical. We need it to be managed properly and the government— (Time expired)

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