Thursday, 29 November 2018
Questions without Notice
Banking and Financial Services
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Mr Morrison voted against a banking royal commission in parliament 26 times. Last night the Prime Minister voted against increasing maximum jail sentences for the most-serious corporate crimes. Why does the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government always side with the big banks?
The first point I would make is that it was Mr Morrison who initiated the establishment of a banking royal commission. It was Mr Morrison who drafted the terms of reference. It was Mr Morrison who was responsible, with the Prime Minister at the time, for selecting the royal commissioner, who's been doing an outstanding job.
Labor over six years in government did nothing in relation to any of this. We have actually increased penalties in relation to relevant corporate offences and crimes—for example, from five years imprisonment to 10 years imprisonment for individuals; and we have increased fines from $210,000 to $9.45 million for corporations in relation to maximum civil penalties. We've increased penalties right across the board. But the Labor Party, as part of a little auction, tried to just push it that little bit further.
We actually are the ones who have taken action. We have increased penalties, and Labor is just playing political games. Over six years in government, you did nothing. During your period in government we saw the collapse of Trio Capital, which had 5,000 victims and is costing $176 million. We saw the collapse of Storm Financial, with 4,000 clients, which suffered losses estimated to be $3 billion. We saw the collapse of Opes Prime. This has led to the people who have committed misconduct being subject to penalties that are much lower than in other industries and financial systems in other Western countries under your government. So, you're Johnny-come-latelies, quite frankly, when it comes to this.
Whether it's the banking royal commission, a $17 billion handout to the big banks or tougher jail sentences for the most-serious corporate crimes, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government is always on the side of the big banks. When will the Prime Minister finally end this protection racket for the big banks?
The shameless dishonesty of that question is just breathtaking. The Treasury Laws Amendment (Strengthening Corporate and Financial Sector Penalties) Bill 2018, which was passed by the House of Representatives, significantly strengthens the penalties for misconduct for banks, and we want to put it to the Senate next week. Labor have now told us that they don't want it in the Senate next week; they want to consider it next year. You are actually standing in the way of higher penalties for the banks for misconduct. You are standing in the way. So, don't come here misleading the Australian people. You could be increasing penalties from five years imprisonment to 10 years imprisonment for individuals and you could be increasing the penalties significantly right across the board for corporations. You are trying to stop us increasing penalties. You are the ones who are standing on the side of corporate crooks, as you did over the six years you were in government when you did nothing to increase penalties.
This Prime Minister supported cuts to penalty rates, cut billions from schools and hospitals, voted against a banking royal commission 26 times, spent years trying to give the big banks a $17 billion tax handout and last night voted against tougher jail sentences for corporate criminals. Why does the Prime Minister only ever stick up for the big banks and the top end of town?
Every single assertion that was made in that question was a lie. Penalty rate decisions were made by the Fair Work Commission, established by the Labor Party with laws preventing the government from intervening—which were pursued by whom? Mr Shorten. And of course, funding for schools and hospitals is going up and up and up under our government, without the need to increase taxes because we are funding increased funding for schools and hospitals on the back of a stronger economy. Under Labor, the economy was weakening; under the coalition, the economy is strengthening. Under Labor, unemployment was rising; under the coalition, unemployment is coming down. That is the sort of track record that we are working on. I could go through the whole list, but let me just say: it is all just a pack of lies.