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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9375

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesMinister for International Development and the Pacific) (15:40): I too rise to speak, first of all, on the question of banking, superannuation and financial services, but, more importantly, to counter the misrepresentations that Senator McAllister has just provided to the Senate. We have one of the strongest and most stable banking, superannuation and financial services industries in the world. They perform a critical role in underpinning the Australian economy. Our banking system is systematically strong, with internationally recognised world's best prudential regulation and oversight. However, the ongoing speculation and fearmongering about a banking inquiry or a royal commission has been disruptive, and it risks undermining the reputation of Australia's world-class financial system. This is what those opposite have been doing. They have been going out there deliberately and systematically fuelling fearmongering and speculation about this banking inquiry and, therefore, in so doing, they are risking and undermining the reputation of our financial system. As a consequence of this, we have decided to establish this royal commission to further ensure our financial system will work efficiently and effectively.

The royal commission will inquire into the alleged misconduct of Australia's banks and other financial services entities. All Australians have the right to be treated honestly and fairly in their dealings with the banking system, with superannuation entities and providers and with financial service providers. The highest standards for these institutions is vitally important to the good governance and corporate culture of those providers and of our system so that the best outcomes possible are provided for Australian consumers. I think that this banking inquiry will also afford the opportunity to look at what this government has actually been doing in its steady program of addressing misconduct by the banks. We have embarked on a reform agenda and we will be continuing that reform agenda. We will take action, where necessary, to hold banks and other financial service entities accountable. The royal commission will not defer, delay or limit in any way any proposed and any announced policy, legislation or regulation that we are currently implementing.

Senator Gallagher came into this place today at an appropriate time, given the circumstances that we are facing today. I will say for the record: Senator Dastyari's comments as he came into this chamber in relation to his conduct fall very short of what is required for this Senate. It was very clear that Senator Dastyari has a lot more to say on this matter. He has failed to do so and, I think, failed to provide adequate explanation in relation to his dealings with Mr Huang.

Whilst we are here and we are talking about issues, I also want to have a look at Mr Dastyari's—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Fierravanti-Wells, this is taking note of answers, and it is taking note in response to the senators as outlined by Senator McAllister.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I think Senator McAllister did make reference to—

Senator Polley: Madam Deputy President, a point of order. You were correct in trying to advise the minister that the issue now before the chair is taking note of answers to questions on the banking royal commission and the lack of leadership from Malcolm Turnbull. It has nothing to do with Senator Dastyari.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Polley. Do you wish to continue?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I do. I think, as Senator Reynolds correctly points out, it is also about transparency and honesty, and we have seen very little of that in this place today. Of course, we are talking about the transparency and honesty of those opposite, and that's really what I was focusing on. In question time, some of the answers were also in relation to that, and objections to some of the comments I made about Kristina Keneally.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Fierravanti-Wells, please resume your seat. Senator McAllister talked about answers to questions from senators at question time today, and you are not one of the people that the opposition is taking note of. I appreciate it's a broad-ranging debate, but it's a broad-ranging debate within those parameters. So please continue.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: It's a broad-ranging debate, Madam Deputy President, and it does go to transparency and accountability. I was going to say that what would one expect with the sort of conduct that Senator Dastyari is alleged to have been involved in? (Time expired)