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Transcript of interview with Janine Perrett: Sky News The Friday Show: 7 October 2016: banking royal commission; bank hearings; banking tribunal

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SUBJECT/S: Banking Royal Commission, bank hearings, banking tribunal.

JANINE PERRETT, HOST: Let's go to the Opposition spokesperson in Canberra, Katy Gallagher. Welcome to the show.

GALLAGHER: Thanks for having me on.

PERRETT: Now, just I want to ask you just quickly your reaction - Malcolm Turnbull has virtually signalled the tribunal is a go, even though there's another report. What is your reaction to that announcement?

GALLAGHER: Well, I guess it confirms everything we've been saying Janine since the announcement of that the banks would be brought to Canberra and that this is that is a really a predetermined outcome. It's a bit of a charade, the whole exercise. And it was designed to avoid the kind of scrutiny that a Royal Commission would bring. We've been saying that for some time and I think the confirmation by the Prime Minister today that the tribunal is the only answer, to all of the issues and problems that we looked at this week is further confirmation of that.

PERRETT: Can I just establish your view on it, because there's some media reports that your position has been a bit vague. Tuesday you were against the tribunal, but in an interview on Wednesday you saw some merits in it. Today you seem to back against the tribunal. Do you see any merit in the tribunal?

GALLAGHER: Look my position has been consistent from the beginning. And it's the position of the Labor Party. We recognise the victims, particularly those that have been fighting for many years on access to some way of resolving their complaints that they don't have at the moment. We get that. What would been saying though is that it's not going to be the be all and end all and address all the issues that we believe warrant the attention of a royal commission. The tribunal will be very narrow, in the sense that it will be able to look at complaints and disputes once they have occurred, and once other avenues of inquiry have been exhausted.

PERRETT: But I just want to take check the position. Labor’s holding out this impression that you’re looking after for the consumer, that you really want this Royal Commission to help them. So why do you have to be against the tribunal? You just said in the last answer does have some merit and will help some victims. Why do you have to be against the tribunal? Because it doesn’t preclude a Royal Commission. Surely you’re stop victims getting compensation and some more immediate help than a Royal Commission would?

GALLAGHER: Look, we haven’t said any of that. What we’ve heard is the Prime Minister wants to bring forward a tribunal. We’ve heard Government members inquire about the benefits of a tribunal with the banks through the hearings today. What we’re saying is a tribunal will not address all of the issues. It may address some, for some victims once their problem has arisen, once their grievance with the banks or their lost their money--

PERRETT: Will you support it?

GALLAGHER: I don’t even think - the announcement today, it’s not clear what the tribunal is, it’s not clear who would be eligible -

PERRETT: Well it’s not sure what your Royal Commission would do?

GALLAGHER: It’s not clear what terms of reference it would have. I don't think anyone can sit here - I don’t even think the Prime Minister knows to be honest what the role of that tribunal would be.

PERRETT: Just on that issue of the terms of reference, I would say one of the things that’s absolutely clear over the banking inquiry this week was that your call for an Royal Commission - it highlighted the complaint people have that you keep saying you want a Royal Commission, we saw how broad the questioning was. You have to be very very focused in a Royal Commission and it’s very clear after what we saw this week you need to have a bit more detail instead of just calling for a Royal Commission don’t you?

GALLAGHER: I think we have outlined over, certainly since the election campaign -

PERRETT: What would your terms of reference be?

GALLAGHER: Well, we have outlined a whole series of areas, I think there’s at least four that I can talk to you further about now. But it would be about looking at how widespread the misconduct has been across the banking and financial services sector. For example, it wouldn’t just look at four banks, it would look at the industry more broadly. It would look at the powers of the regulators and how they’ve been operating, and whether they’re adequate, and whether they’ve been performing at the level we need them to be perform. It would be looking at professional standards, how we’re regulating those, for people who are working in the industry. It would look at best practice overseas; these are all areas that we’ve been quite clear about

PERRETT: Looking at best practice is not really an area for a Royal Commission is it? I mean, that’s extremely vague. I want to get your impression of the questioning this week. Because to be fair, I don’t think the Labor ministers either, the Labor members

prosecuted a very good case. Everybody agrees it was all over the place. The questioning was vague. I mean you’re blaming the way it was set up, but nobody did themselves any favours in getting to any answers there. And the only good thing was at least it didn’t cost a huge amount. What would have been the point of having expensive QCs going on a fishing expedition?

GALLAGHER: A couple of points there, I would say it was interesting to see how the committee conducted its business. There was very little time allocated for particular lines of questioning. I think if you give every committee member a ten minute allocation and they’ve got to cover a range of issues you’re hardly going to be able to draw the line of questioning, and the follow up questions that need to come from that. So yes we are critical of the process that was put in place. We don’t think it was adequate at all. There are range of issues that needed to be pursued, and there simply wasn't enough time for any of the members to follow that.

But this issue of cost, I mean I’ve been meeting with victims of banking scandals and financial misconduct since I took on this portfolio. And this is something that always irks them, because for some reason we’re not allowed to spend any money looking at how and why these problems have occurred, and how to prevent them from happening again. But for them, often in debt hundreds of dollars for whatever poor experience they’ve had, they’ve still got to figure out how to pay all that money back and not be able to seek appropriate compensation for it.

PERRETT: I think that’s a very good point. Because on the issue of cost, that goes back to what I said at the start. Those same people that you talk about not getting compensation, the Financial Ombudsman can only go up to $500,000, the compensation’s only $309,000. That’s exactly the point of having a tribunal. So if you’re so concerned with the people you’re talking to surely you would want to see them have a tribunal so that they can get that compensation rather than spending on a Royal Commission at this stage?

GALLAGHER: And whether or not the tribunal is the way to go, and the powers it has, and the scope for compensation are all things we believe could be articulated and examined through this Royal Commission. Again, I don’t think the Prime Minister or the members of the --

PERRETT: A Royal Commission is going to take years. What about these people you’re talking about who want compensation now. Don’t you want to help them?

GALLAGHER: Well, with all due respect, some of them of these people have been pursuing access to just for years -

PERRETT: Exactly.

GALLAGHER: So there’s this line that, oh well you can’t have a Royal Commission because it’s going to take years. Yet for all the people that have been burnt and are feeling frustrated and haven’t been able to get their voices heard, they didn’t three hours to come to Canberra and talk this week did they? For some reason that’s an adequate response for them, and I disagree.

PERRETT: Let me put it again very clearly. It’s not to me an and or, I am not saying don’t have a Royal Commission if something comes up. What I’m saying is I don’t understand if you’re concerned about the victims why you won’t say if the tribunal is going to help them quicker, we could still have a Royal Commission, but we would look at supporting it. It seems quite simple to me. It’s not stopping your Royal Commission. But it is helping those people sooner relief and compensation that will cost them a fortune through the courts.

GALLAGHER: Well again, all of that is unclear, Janine. There has been absolutely no detail of this tribunal outlined by anybody. So the powers, the scope, the ability, avenues for compensation - none of that is clear. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to say we’re not in a position to endorse it and we will continue to call for a Royal Commission. Nothing that happened this week has changed our view on that.

When you see the details will you maybe keep an open mind? Do you think this is something there might be scope for some bipartisanship?

GALLAGHER: We’ll certainly look at any detail that Government can produce.

PERRETT: Well that’s positive outcome then. Thank you very much for that, Katy Gallagher.

GALLAGHER: Thank you.