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Transcript of Interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News: 30 November 2017: Royal Commission into the Banks

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SUBJECTS: Royal Commission into the Banks

KIERAN GILBERT: We've got Labor frontbencher Linda Burney. Linda we had planned to discuss a range of other issues but your thoughts on this breaking news that the big four banks have capitulated and called for a Royal Commission into themselves. Quite extraordinary.

LINDA BURNEY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES AND THE MEMBER FOR BARTON: It is extraordinary and it puts the heat clearly and fairly on the Turnbull Government, in fact on the Turnbull Cabinet. Of course Labor has been calling for exactly what the banks are now asking for, for a very long time. We go back to Parliament next week and apart from the Marriage Equality debate, this was going to be the big one. So the wood now it's clearly on Malcolm Turnbull and his cabinet. Are they going to hold the line that they've been saying all along that there's no need for any inquiry - what we're doing is enough - when in fact we've now got the actual banks saying we want this commission and is now going to be extremely interesting to see how Malcolm Turnbull is going to twist his way through, in, out, however, over this one.

GILBERT: Does Labor accept some of the responsibility for creating the uncertainty that the big four banks are referring to in this letter which they argue is hurting confidence in our financial services system, including in offshore markets and has diminished trust and respect in the sector?

BURNEY: Well I think Labor, as I said, has been completely consistent, as have a number of other people within the Parliament, including the prospect of two or three Nationals crossing the floor next week, exactly on this particular issue. The other thing that struck me very significantly was a few weeks ago when the banks took away their $2.00 or $2.50 fee for using ATMs, you know, if they weren’t your bank, that said to me that the banking sector knew they had a problem and they had to do something about restoring confidence. This is, I would imagine, from the bank's perspective, all of the big four banks, working together to say to the Turnbull Government, come on we've got to have an inquiry, the public has lost confidence, we've got to restore it somehow. Your question about Labor being complicit in this I reject. Labor has been consistent for a long time now in saying that there needed to be a Royal Commission,

GILBERT: Yeah, well the banks now obviously believe that the damage and the uncertainty with the difference of opinion between the two major parties has done enough damage, they need to bring that to a head. Do you think that they've got a point in suggesting that all the other inquiries or examination into the sector should now be subsumed by the Commission when it's confirmed by the Prime Minister and Treasurer shortly?

BURNEY: Well, if you're right in saying that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister are going to confirm that there will be a Royal Commission or a Commission of Inquiry, whatever it is, those other mechanisms will be up to a discussion amongst the independents and Labor as to whether they should continue. It is Malcolm Turnbull's idea to drag the CEOs of the banks in every twice a year to be cross-examined which was a bit of a slap over the wrist now and again. The banks have realised that they have lost a lot of confidence out there in the community and are saying that the uncertainty that's been created, and I don't think they can blame Labor. I think they have to look at their own actions. They also have to look at the fact that the Turnbull Government has consistently rejected, absolutely rejected the idea of a Royal Commission where many others have been saying, including Labor, this is what we need. What a Royal Commission does, we've all seen the power and the effect of them, is it gives the opportunity, and I'm assuming that that's what the banks are asking for, but it gives the opportunity for consumers in particular. And that's where we need to focus here, consumers in particular, get to talk about their experience and have a say and have a role in making the decisions about what needs to happen with banks. The banks have also identified the risk internationally. And that must be weighing heavily on their minds as well.

GILBERT: You would think though, in a political sense - you say the heat’s on the Government - hard to see how they don't go ahead with a Royal Commission now that the banks themselves are calling for it into themselves. It provides - this provides a political circuit breaker for Mr Tuirnbull.

BURNEY: Well it could provide that political circuit breaker. That had crossed my mind. But I don't think that. My personal view is that I think the community has lost confidence in the Government. I mean it is not just these banks that are going to be the issue. There is no energy policy. There has been the nonsense about a non-binding postal survey to establish what everyone knew in the first place that Australia wanted Marriage Equality. There are all the issues around citizenship. So it is not correct to just say that the banking issue was the only issue facing the Turnbull Government. It was absolute turmoil that was going on, including let us not forget the prospect of next week members of the National Party crossing the floor to vote with Labor and some of the independents on the establishing an inquiry into the very thing that we're discussing this morning and that's the banking sector.

GILBERT: This is also a distraction from another story that we've been discussing at length this morning and that is the case of Sam Dastyari. Is this enough what Mr Shorten has done in terms of demoting Senator Dastyari? Because the Government maintains that his position is untenable beyond the moves by Mr Shorten today in terms of additional parliamentary responsibilities like the deputy whip position - in fact we'll get more on that later. Let's hear the Prime Minister.