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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 67


Mr GORMAN (Perth) (16:10): The Prime Minister told this House he had regret for not supporting the royal commission—he told us that yesterday. We've had three Prime Ministers vote against the need for a royal commission into the banks 26 times—that is, 26 times voting against a royal commission into the banks. It was 26 times, each represented by a different briefcase on Deal or No Deal—every single one saying 'no deal', no royal commission. There are 26 letters in the alphabet and for every single one of those letters, they voted no. They voted no A, no B, no—I will spare you the rest, but I think you get the picture.

There is something else that has a similarity on this number 26. I want to make this point: 26 times is a large number of times to vote against something. Something I learned today in researching for my contribution was there were 26 episodes of season 1 of The Muppet Show. I agree with the member for Cowan; I also do not think it a coincidence that there were 26 times this government voted against the banking royal commission, and 26 episodes of season 1 of The Muppet Show. I will share, for the more mathematically inclined, one other fact about the number 26. Twenty-six is the smallest non-palindromic number to have a palindromic square of 676.

I support those who work in banks in my community. I support those who work in the financial sector. It's a very important employer. But they would be embarrassed about some of the conduct that has been exposed by this royal commission. I'd like to think that voting against the banking royal commission 26 times was a mistake, and we all make mistakes from time to time. I made a mistake in this House on Monday. I failed to say in my first speech the name of Matt Rogers, one of the people who assisted me on my campaign. That was a genuine mistake, but I didn't make it 26 times.

People say that patience is a virtue. This government must be very, very virtuous to be so patient on the desperate need for a royal commission, when the evidence was coming to them week after week, month after month and they refused to act. We've seen the scandals. We have seen what the royal commission has shown us about what is happening here in our own country, in our own financial services sector, in our own banks.

There has not been a hearing held for the royal commission in Western Australia, but it hasn't stopped Western Australians from sharing their stories about what has happened to them as a result of, in this case, possible breaches of the code of conduct from the banking industry. I talk about the case for the Harley family. The ANZ Bank may have—I say 'may have'—breached the industry code of conduct. Whether or not ANZ breached the industry code of conduct is one thing, but they acted appallingly in how they treated this family. Stephen Harley had a heart attack. He was awaiting surgery. This was the time that the ANZ Bank decided for the Harleys, who had been farming on their land for 107 years, that it was time to call in debts of $2.5 million. He was waiting for surgery. And then, after they'd been kicked off the farm, the bank said, 'Oh, actually, we've cleared the debts. We're sorry.' Sorry doesn't cut it. If it weren't for the banking royal commission, these stories wouldn't have been told.

So, again, I commend the leadership shown by the shadow Treasurer, by the Leader of the Opposition, by the member for Hotham and by others to make sure that we had this royal commission. But it's a pattern of behaviour from this Liberal government—or from this Liberal-National government, if the Nationals want credit as well for this disgraceful activity—where they vote against important decisions, important national needs. They voted against protecting penalty rates. It's a pattern of behaviour. More recently, they voted against referring the member for Dickson to the High Court. Maybe that's a reflection on the sorts of judgement made in this place by those opposite.

But it's not all negative. They do vote for some things. We know that they voted to give the banks a $17 billion tax handout and voted to raise the pension age to 70.