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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9362

Banking and Financial Services

Senator KETTER (Queensland) (14:48): My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. Can the minister confirm that the letter from the four major Australian banks supporting a royal commission was received at 8.30 am and that the Prime Minister and Treasurer stood up just half an hour later to announce their policy backflip? What discussions occurred between the Turnbull government and the banks prior to the letter being released?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:48): I can confirm that a letter from the banks was received this morning. As to the precise time, I'd have to take that on notice and check with the Treasurer. I can also confirm that the government made the decision in relation to the establishment of a royal commission this morning, which is a matter of public record and which I've already indicated in response to the question by Senator Whish-Wilson. Thirdly, I can confirm that the government always has ongoing consultations on a whole range of matters with all stakeholders across Australia, including the very important stakeholders in relation to important financial institutions.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Ketter, a supplementary question.

Senator KETTER (Queensland) (14:49): Did the Treasurer or any other member of the Turnbull government economic team request that the banks revisit their opposition to a royal commission?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:49): As you know, the government's position, until we made a decision otherwise this morning, was to oppose a royal commission, and that is a matter of public record. We did not believe that a royal commission was in the national interest. But, given the way the politics of this debate have evolved, we took the view that it was important for the government to take control in the national interest, and that is, of course, what we've done. In relation to the other matters the senator has raised, I will consult the Treasurer.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Ketter, a final supplementary question.

Senator KETTER (Queensland) (14:50): Can the minister confirm that banking victims groups were not even consulted on the royal commission terms of reference prior to the announcement this morning? What does it say about the Turnbull government that it works with the banks on a royal commission and not with the victims of the banks' misconduct?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:50): My advice is that the banks were not consulted in relation to terms of reference in relation to the royal commission. This is something that was developed by the government. It was announced by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. It is something, of course, that will now go through all of the appropriate steps to give effect to it.