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

3:16 pm

Photo of Jane HumeJane Hume (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Madam Deputy President, have you ever heard the phrase 'if you don't like what they're saying about you, change the conversation'? I have never heard the conversation changed quite so much today, during this take note session, as we've just seen from Senator Cameron. How extraordinary! You've got to feel sorry for the Labor Party; they've had a bad day. It's been a bad day when one of your members, the member for Lindsay, didn't turn up to work on a day when there's a crucial vote—she just made it, just slipped in—and when your coalition partners in the Australian Greens decide that, actually, they've changed their minds about you and they're not going to support your legislation through. When you've had a bad day like that, what's the best thing you can do? The best thing you can do is deflect. 'Look over there,' they say. That's exactly what the Labor Party have done today.

It's a shame, because they had a bit of pep in the step and glide in the stride over late last year—but it does seem to have diminished somewhat in recent weeks. I think that maybe they were getting a little bit too comfortable, a little bit too complacent, a little bit too confident, but that's certainly not the case. You can see the turmoil that the Labor Party find themselves in, particularly over this banking royal commission that was commissioned by the Liberal-National government and announced in November 2017. There have been 68 days of hearings. There have been 130 witnesses. They've reviewed more than 10,000 submissions. Now we have 76 separate recommendations that the government has considered and will take action on—all 76. We didn't jump the gun. We didn't say, 'We're going to support everything even though we're not entirely sure what we're supporting.' We waited. We considered the report that came from Justice Hayne. We went through every single one of those recommendations, one by one, and then we made a comment on each.

Unfortunately, the poor old Labor Party—I'm a compassionate person; I feel quite sorry for them—have gone: 'Some of those recommendations are a little bit uncomfortable. What are we going to do about default super?' Justice Hayne said there should be one single default super fund for all Australians. That doesn't sit particularly well with a Labor Party that has vested interests in the industry superannuation sector through its union affiliations. I mean, what can you do? Senator Cameron himself was a board member of an industry super fund. Senator Ketter was a board member of an industry super fund. Goodness me! The Leader of the Opposition himself was a board member of an industry super fund. How do you decouple superannuation from industrial relations, as Commissioner Hayne has suggested, while looking after your vested interests? It's a very difficult thing to do, which is why the Labor Party don't want to talk about it. They also don't want to talk about mortgage brokers. There are 27,000 individual mortgage brokers out there in Australia, and they provide over 50 per cent of the loans. Not only do they provide 50 per cent of the home loans but they are also responsible for improving competition in our banking sector, competition that is so very, very important.

Commissioner Hayne has made a series of recommendations, which the government has considered. Of those recommendations to do with mortgage brokers, we have said that we will adopt putting in place a best interest duty and that we will ban trail commissions and volume based bonuses on new loans, starting from July 2020, but we are not yet comfortable with the idea of banning upfront commissions. We're not yet comfortable with that because it will essentially decimate the mortgage broking industry—the 27,000 mortgage broking employees and the 17,000 broking businesses that are out there.

Ask the Labor Party what it is that they want to do on mortgage brokers, because they haven't actually landed on a solution yet. They've gone silent. Instead, they're saying: 'Look the other way. Look the other way.' They haven't landed on a decision about what to do with superannuation. What are they going to do about default super? What are you going to do about default super? What are you going to say to your vested interests? Are you going to say, 'Yes, you're right: we'll decouple industrial relations from superannuation from retirement incomes'? That should have been done years ago. But they can't do it because they have vested interests. Look the other way. If you don't like what they're saying about you, change the conversation, and that's exactly what the ALP have done today. (Time expired)

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