Wednesday, 24 June 2015
That the Senate—
(i) the recommendations of the Economics References Committee inquiry into the performance of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and
(ii) the allegations that financial planners at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, ANZ Bank, Macquarie Bank and, most recently, IOOF had engaged in unethical and/or unlawful activity; and
(b) calls on the Government to establish a royal commission into misconduct within the financial services sector.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
It is time for a broad-ranging royal commission in this country into white collar crime and misconduct in the financial services sector. Nearly 12 months ago, the Senate inquiry of the Economics Committee made a recommendation for a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank. Following that, in the last 12 months, thanks to some brave whistleblowers and some dogged reporting from Fairfax journalists, we have seen allegations and revelations of misconduct at Macquarie Bank, ANZ, National Australia Bank and, recently, at IOOF. How many more scandals are lurking under the surface?
Although the Senate has done some good work, and I do commend some of my colleagues in this chamber for their work, the committee made a recommendation for a good reason. That is, a royal commission would have the powers to get to the bottom of this and sort it out once and for all for the good of the financial services sector and for the good of the Australian people. I recommend my fellow senators support this motion.
The government's position has not changed. The financial services industry has never been under closer scrutiny. Over the past 12 months alone we have had five inquiries into the sector. The Financial System Inquiry made recommendations to strengthen regulation of the financial advice sector and increase ASIC powers, as did the Economics Committee inquiry into the performance of ASIC. We are now working on raising professional standards for financial advisers in response to the bipartisan parliamentary joint committee inquiry. There is also a Senate inquiry into the scrutiny of financial advice which is due to report next year. Another Senate inquiry into forestry managed investment schemes is due to report mid year.
The government has delivered on its commitment to introduce a public register of all financial advisers. At the same time, substantial changes to the regulatory regime for financial advisers through FoFA are due to come into full force on 1 July. Also, the financial advice sector is a key focus for ASIC.