Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Questions without Notice
Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Can the minister confirm that the decision to hold a royal commission into the banks, 26 times after the government voted against one, was made by former Prime Minister Turnbull? Can the minister further confirm media reports quoting government sources that the then Treasurer and now Prime Minister, Mr Morrison, was—and I quote—'the last hold-out'?
The same media report states that sources close to Mr Morrison confirmed he issued warnings of 'reputational damage' to the government if they backflipped and supported a royal commission. Why was Mr Morrison more concerned with the government's reputation than with protecting the victims of banking misconduct?
I completely reject the assertion in that question. It was Prime Minister Morrison who as Treasurer introduced the Banking Executive Accountability Regime, which, of course, is designed to hold banking executives to account and which was absolutely supported, positively supported, by the royal commissioner. In fact, he wants us to expand it into other areas. It was Scott Morrison as the Treasurer who led the charge, alongside Kelly O'Dwyer as the relevant minister at the time, when it came to the establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. It was Scott Morrison as the Treasurer who made sure that ASIC and APRA had more resources and more power so that they could do their job effectively. Indeed, it was Scott Morrison as the Treasurer who led the charge when it came to putting the terms of reference together for the banking royal commission and, indeed, when it came to the decision-making in relation to the appointment of the royal commissioner. It is Scott Morrison now, as Prime Minister, who will lead the charge in our response. (Time expired)
Can the minister confirm that the last hold-out, Mr Morrison, only backflipped on a royal commission after the banks wrote and requested one? Why won't this bank-loving and out-of-touch Mr Morrison immediately act to implement the royal commission's recommendations by recalling parliament in March?
Firstly, unlike the Labor Party, we are taking action on all 76 recommendations now. In fact, we have legislation in the Senate this week which, courtesy of the Greens, we haven't been able to deal with over the last two hours.
We have legislation to increase penalties on white-collar crime, to increase the powers for APRA. Indeed, we have legislation, which we would like to see the Labor Party support, to abolish exit fees from superannuation accounts for those Australians saving for their retirement. But guess what? I would be interested to see how the Labor Party acts on that. Are you going to act in the interests of Australians saving for their retirement or are you going to act in the interests of those union-dominated industry funds?
The core response is: the government is still taking action. We're still waiting on the response from the Labor Party. We are taking action, including through legislation. I tell you why we're not going to recall the parliament. It's because—