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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 59


Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (10:01): I move:

that all words after "that" be omitted with a view to substitute the following words: This House:

(1) acknowledges concerns in the community about certain practices in the banking sector;

(2) notes that most of the notable scandals and collapses within the financial services sectors occurred under Labor's watch, when the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister responsible for Financial Services;

(3) notes that the Leader of the Opposition, as the then Minister responsible for Financial Services, neither initiated a royal commission into the banking sectors nor took meaningful action against the banks;

(4) supports the Prime Minister's actions in:

(a) calling on the banks to pass on interest rate cuts;

(b) reminding the banks that they operate in Australia under a 'social licence';

(c) his commitment to improving the culture in the banking industry; and

(d) his requirement that Australia's major banks appear at least once a year before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics to enable the Committee to report jointly to the Treasurer and the Parliament on Australia's banking and financial system;

(5) acknowledges that the Australian Government has already taken significant steps to further strengthen our banking and financial system by commissioning the Murray Financial System Inquiry and taking significant steps toward implementing the recommendations of that report;

(a) notes that the Murray Inquiry was opposed by Labor, with the then Treasurer, the Member for McMahon, stating "The finanical system is strong, well-regulated and well managed and I have not seen a case for a full blown inquiry";

(6) notes that the the Australian Government has conducted a capability review of ASIC and has acted to strengthen the resources and capability of the regulator, which not only has the investigative and reporting powers of a Royal Commission but also strong powers to compel a person to answer questions under oath, to compel the production of documents, to seek search warrants, to conduct investigations and to then use this information in prosecutions;

(a) notes that ASIC has commenced legal proceedings against three of the big four banks for alleged market manipulation of the bank bill swap rate, has commenced an investigation into the allegations surrounding CommInsure and the broader life insurance sector and is undertaking investigations into the conduct of the largest financial advice firms, as part of its Wealth Management Project;

(7) notes that, at their appearance before the House of Representatives Standing Committe on Economics, the banks will be required to explain pricing decisions and discuss their progress in responding to various issues raised in previous Parliamentary inquiries;

(8) notes that the Government is committed to ensuring that consumer complaints in the financial system don't fall through the cracks, that consumers can access justice and appropriate compensation in a timely manner, and that the Government has tasked an expert panel, led by Professor Ian Ramsay, with a comprehensive review of the External Dispute Resolution Schemes;

(9) notes that the Australian Government, via the Ramsay Review, is looking at establishing a one-stop-shop, which could formally adjudicate on consumer complaints and award compensation to those affected by malfeasance;

(10) notes that the Ramsay Review will produce an interim report to Government by November this year and will produce its final report no later than March 2017;

(11) supports the Government's action in tasking the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman with a forensic review of the most egregious cases identified by the Parliamentary Joint Committee report into the Impairment of Customer Loans to determine whether the regulatory deficiencies identified by the Inquiry, and any additional deficiencies identified through the forensic examination of the cases, require further specific reforms; and

(12) notes that if a Royal Commisssion was to go ahead it would simply be reviewing old ground and would delay well-developed and important reforms that will strengthen consumer protections, ensure malpractice is detected and punished, and provide a one-stop-shop for consumer complaints, in addition, a Royal Commission would send a signal internationally that there are structural problems with our banking and financial system which would have significant repercussions for confidence, international investment and for our AAA credit rating.

In moving that motion—

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Burke: The point of order: you have previously ruled that members in this place were to be called by their correct titles. You called the member for Dawson. What we just heard was not the member the Dawson. I thought back in Mackay we would have someone with some courage.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. That is a frivolous point of order. He does not have the call. The member for Dawson has the call.

Mr CHRISTENSEN: If we want to talk about courage, let's talk about courage. Let's talk about what this government is going to do and what this government is doing right now. We know that there is a problem in the banking industry, so what we have done and what we continue to do is something unlike what those on the opposite side do: we are taking action. They want to have a very expensive inquiry that is only going to provide recommendations to government. And when are they so brave to do this? When they are in opposition.

They had plenty of time while they were in government. They had plenty of different scandals that occurred to actually come up with something brave: the Opes Prime margin lending scandal, the CBA financial planning scandal, Storm Financial planning scandal, Trio Capital, Great Southern north, another breach of reports by CBA financial planning, MF Global, Macquarie Equities Limited, Banksia, CBA again. All of that happened under Labor's watch, while Bill Shorten, while the Leader of the Opposition—sorry, Mr Speaker—was responsible for financial services.

He could have done something then. They are very, very weak in government; very brave in opposition. But, instead, we are taking action as a government, and we have already commissioned the financial system inquiry, the Murray inquiry, a broad root-and-branch review of Australia's financial system that was opposed by Labor. The then Treasurer, the member for McMahon, said—and I said it in the motion: 'The financial system is strong, well regulated and well managed, and I have not seen a case for a full-blown inquiry.' They are once again brave in opposition; blind in opposition, little mice in government.

I have to say with the Murray inquiry we have accepted all but one of the 44 recommendations. We have gone to ASIC. We have strengthened ASIC. We have strengthened ASIC with a range of different powers and with more resources and, as a result, three of the four big banks are currently before them, being investigated, being prosecuted. And I have to say I do applaud the work of the government here in establishing the Ramsay review.

The Ramsay review is going to be very, very important, because what trumps a big expensive talk-fest is actual action. Having a tribunal, a one-stop shop set-up, which is what the Ramsay review is tasked with looking at—a one-stop shop, perhaps a tribunal that can go and assess individual complaints that consumers bring before that tribunal. They can go and assess them to bring the banks before it, ask the banks questions, pursue perhaps penalties, but certainly provide compensation to victims of banks. I have to say that is what a lot of us have been looking for. That sort of action trumps all of the talk that these guys have, all of the talk that the Labor Party has—again, these people are lions in opposition but mice in government when it comes to the banking industry.

We have taken action. Can I just say one further thing. These guys might be mice—

The SPEAKER: The member for Dawson will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order?

Mr Burke: It's not a point of order. I seek under standing orders to make an intervention during the speech to ask the member speaking why he said—

The SPEAKER: The member for Dawson has indicated he will not accept the intervention.

Mr Burke: It is only his own words.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business does not have the call. The member for Dawson.

Mr Burke interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Dawson has the call.

Mr CHRISTENSEN: You've had your chance, Tony. You've had your chance. Mr Speaker, the Labor Party might be mice when it comes to this, but I have to say I respect the member for Kennedy because he has had this issue and he has run with this issue for quite a long time. He knows as well as I do the problems that there are with the banking sector and the rural sector.

I am sure that through this Ramsay review we are going to get a tribunal established which will enable victims of banking malfeasance to come before that tribunal—penalties for the banks and compensation for the victims. That is what we have been looking for; that is what this government is going to deliver. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Just before I call for a seconder, I do just want to point out to the House on this first day that there have been complaints from, variously, the Leader of the House in the previous parliament and others about the length of motions. And there have been very lengthy motions. I am going to refer members now to page 297 of Practice, which points out that motions should be concise and not overly lengthy and that previous Speakers have taken action. The amendment moved by the member for Dawson was extremely lengthy. It took almost five minutes to read. It is far too long. I have chosen not to take action on this occasion, but I just flag that now, in all fairness.

Mr Burke: Mr Speaker, before you call the seconder—

The SPEAKER: No, I am going to call the seconder.

Mr Burke: I am seeking leave.

The SPEAKER: I am going to ask the Manager of Opposition Business to resume his seat. I was about to call the seconder. You were not on your feet then. I made a statement to the House. I am now calling the seconder. The member for Swan, is the motion seconded?