Senate debates

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Financial Services

6:36 pm

Photo of Anne McEwenAnne McEwen (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the confidence and trust in the financial services industry has been shaken by ongoing revelations of scandals, which have resulted in tens of thousands of Australians being ripped off, including:

(A) retirees who have had their retirement savings gutted,

(B) families who have been rorted out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,

(C) small business owners who have lost everything, and

(D) life insurance policy holders who have been denied justice,

(ii) the first 3 months of 2016 alone have seen:

(A) allegations of serious misconduct in the insurance industry,

(B) the launch of an investigation into several banks for bank bill swap rate fixing, and

(C) allegations that major financial institutions have supported systematic tax avoidance as a result of the disclosure of the Panama Papers,

(iii) it is clear from the breadth and scope of the allegations That the problems in this industry go beyond any one bank or type of financial institution,

(iv) on 6 April 2016, the Prime Minister himself said 'There have been too many troubling incidents over recent times for them simply to be dismissed',

(v) Australian Labor Party, the Australian Greens, crossbench, Australian Liberal Party and The Nationals parliamentarians have supported further investigation of these allegations through a Royal Commission, and

(vi) Australia has one of the strongest banking systems in the world, but Australians must have confidence in their banks and financial institutions, making it necessary to sweep away doubt and uncover and deal with unethical behaviour that compromises that confidence; and

(b) calls on the Prime Minister to request His Excellency the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia issue Letters Patent to establish a Royal Commission to inquire into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The government opposes this motion for a royal commission. The government recognises that Australia's banks and banking executives have not always lived up to the standards expected by the community, but the government does not support appointing a royal commission into banking and financial services. The government continues to support our regulators in ensuring the integrity in our finance and banking system, ensuring Australian consumer protection is watertight and ensuring malpractice is punished. A royal commission has no power to enforce the law, whether through taking prosecution action against a person or body or making findings of a breach of the law and imposing fines or penalties. We need to focus on implementing the reforms needed to strengthen our financial system. We have already started implementing measures to improve consumer outcomes, including improving the professional standards of financial advisers.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that general business notice of motion No. 1127 be agreed to.