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Monday, 4 September 2023
Page: 93

Senator DEAN SMITH (Western Australia) (19:00): I rise to speak on the Financial Accountability Regime Bill 2023 and the Financial Accountability Regime (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2023. These bills establish the Financial Accountability Regime, extending the existing Banking Executive Accountability Regime.

This, of course, is the second time that this chamber will be considering these bills in this form. Last year, you'll recall, the self-opening pinata, the Assistant Treasurer, thought he would be Mr Dealmaker and agree to the amendment proposed by Senator McKim and the Australian Greens to add civil penalties provisions that would impact community bank executives. He did this, we understand, to secure the support of the Australian Greens for the legislation, despite the fact that we had set out from the beginning that the opposition supported this legislation, guaranteeing its passage through the parliament. We know the Assistant Treasurer can't count in economic terms, but it is clear for all to see that he also can't count in parliamentary terms—not a good sign for the Prime Minister's numbers man in the New South Wales Left faction.

Of course, the Assistant Treasurer did not think to consult the impacted parties on this new amendment. Why would he? We aren't even sure if he consulted his senior minister, the Treasurer, Dr Chalmers, when he agreed to the amendments proposed by the Australian Greens. Predictably, the Assistant Treasurer's attempt at the art of the deal imploded, his wings were clipped and he was forced to back down. Naturally, Senator McKim feels he has been ripped off and has made this view very clear to the chamber. Is that a nod in affirmation, Senator McKim? Thank you very much—just in case the Hansard didn't capture your enthusiastic nod in affirmation. Just to repeat that, naturally Senator McKim feels he's been ripped off and has made his views clear to the chamber. But, after that deeply unnecessary policy merry-go-round, we are back to where we should have been, albeit months later, with a bipartisan bill that will progress through the Senate this evening.

Australia's financial sector is a critical element of our successful economy, and a strong financial sector demands appropriate regulation. Whilst our financial services system has served us well, we can't ignore that the royal commission was necessary. That's why the coalition called it. The coalition committed to taking action on all of the 76 recommendations and additional commitments contained in the final report of the royal commission. We welcome the introduction of the primary Financial Accountability Regime and the compensation of last resort legislation and the government's decision to retain them largely in the same shape and form as proposed. The Financial Accountability Regime extends the existing banking sector responsibility and accountability framework to the insurance and superannuation sectors. The regime ensures that, where misconduct does occur and financial institutions act below community expectations, appropriate consequences will follow. Our support for this bill underscores our commitment to the royal commission's recommendations and the process that we initiated, which, unfortunately, uncovered too many instances of misconduct across the financial sector and highlighted that industry practices were too often not meeting community expectations. With that in mind, the coalition will support the passage of the bill this evening.