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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 128

Banking and Financial Services


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. On 10 April this year the Prime Minister said the existing laws and regulators were sufficient to deal with the ongoing rip-offs and scandals in the banking sector. Since then, his government has been forced to announce or flag new measures on no less than four occasions, including today. When will the Prime Minister stop protecting the banks, show some real leadership and call a royal commission?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:01): The real question is: when will the Leader of the Opposition stop playing politics? When will he take an interest in the lives and the livings and the businesses of Australians instead of posing as some sort of latter-day Jack Lang, some sort of populist champion of the battler and small business? The reality is that the Leader of the Opposition has no interest whatsoever in any of the people that have been hard done by the banks—none at all. He has not offered to recover one dollar. He has not offered to change one law. What he has offered to do is spend years and years and years on a lawyers' funding fest. The only people that will be enriched out of a banking royal commission will be the legal profession. Honourable members opposite know that very, very well. Indeed, it was only a few years ago that the member for Lilley, interviewed by Laurie Oakes, said:

… the last thing the system needs is another inquiry. Crass populism doesn't work—

Well, it is working right here, member for Lilley—

What works here is methodical application, the detail, getting it right, then getting it in place so the reform is enduring for the long term.

That is what we are doing. We are determined to deliver for Australians who want to see a better financial system and better regulation. We are taking action. We have strong regulation. We know that. We recall that the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister for Financial Services for three years. He has had more experience with financial services than have most members of this House. He was also a director of AustralianSuper, an industry fund which has in excess of $5 billion invested in Australia's big banks. I have not noticed AustralianSuper using its shareholding pressure to get the bank to change their practices! But the honourable member opposite could speak to Dave Oliver and all the other ACTU representatives on the board of AustralianSuper.

When the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister for Financial Services he said:

Australia has some of the best banks in the world. It is partly because of our excellent regulatory system and prudent management.

So for all that time, when he had the levers of power in his hands, what did he do? Nothing. Last year what did they do when a royal commission was proposed? Nothing. When I have asked him for some suggestions and measures that would improve the situation, does he have any ideas? Nothing—just a royal commission. They should build a statue of him outside the barristers' chambers! (Time expired)