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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 146

Turnbull Government

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (15:07): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's failure to get his way on superannuation and negative gearing, his failure to implement lessons learned about cutting Medicare and his failure to hold back the right wing of his party on racial discrimination. When will the Prime Minister start leading his party, not following his party?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (15:07): You know, it seems a long time ago, really, but it was actually only yesterday when the Leader of the Opposition was promising a more constructive and civil debate in the parliament, when he was going to work with us and address the problems of the nation with big ideas in a constructive and pragmatic way. And what we have had, from the moment the House opened this morning, is just one political stunt after another—questions based on an edifice of false premises. It is the same old Labor. The election did happen, and they are still in opposition, but nothing has changed on their side. They have no interest in constructive engagement. They have nothing to say in terms of dealing with the big challenges we face. It is all about politics, all about partisanship.

We talk about leadership, and the Leader of the Opposition expresses great sympathy, he says, for people that have been done wrong by banks, and we should have great sympathy for them. But what is the difference? We are taking action. We are ensuring that the agencies that protect them and ensure these things do not happen again are strengthened. We are ensuring that the methods for resolving disputes with banks are improved and advanced. We are taking action now, because we know what the problems are, just as he does. He knows what the problems are. Most of them arose when he was the Minister for Financial Services. He should know all about it, and in those days he was able to come up with a few ideas. He pioneered some reforms. He did. But now he has become an idea-free zone. It is as though he has been programmed by the member for Isaacs. It is as though he is a robot, directed only by the Bar Association, determined to pitch hundreds of millions of dollars into the legal profession's pockets. Not one dollar of that will go to the people who have been dealt with poorly or inadequately by the banks. Not one dollar of that will result in a new law or a new regulation or a new ombudsman or a new tribunal that will resolve disputes.

What it is is a slogan. He has a slogan. He wants a royal commission. That is what he wants: he wants a royal commission, and he has nothing of substance—not an idea. I wrote to him only the other day, and one of the things I asked him to do was to propose some constructive ideas to improve the regulation of financial services. I am still waiting. This is someone who sat on the board of one of the biggest super funds—one of the biggest shareholders in the banks, in fact. He sat on that board. He was the minister. But today he has no ideas.