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Transcript of interview with Oliver Peterson: Perth Live with Oliver Peterson: 4 February 2019: Banking Royal Commission Final Report

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SUBJECTS: Banking Royal Commission Final Report

OLIVER PETERSON: Clare O’Neil is Labor’s spokeswoman for financial services and she joins me on Perth Live this afternoon. Thank you very much for your time.


PETERSON: Alright Josh Frydenberg says ‘let the Government get on with the job of fixing up the banks’ - is he right?

O’NEIL: If only we could take Josh Frydenberg at his word. Unfortunately we know that the Government never wanted this Royal Commission to be written, and all of the things that have come out about how the banks have mistreated people are things that the Government didn’t want Australians to understand. And now they’re expecting us to believe that they’re interested in implementing all these recommendations. And what I’d just say to Josh is that the Government has put in place effectively a part time Parliament, they’ve told us Parliament is going to sit for two weeks out of the next eight months. We can get on with implementing these recommendations straight away but we need to be at work, and we are keen to get on with it. So let’s get back to Canberra and start legislating.

PETERSON: Okay, there are 76 recommendations in the report. Josh Frydenberg has really stopped short of endorsing every single one. Will Labor endorse every single recommendation?

O’NEIL: We in principle support all the recommendations. We’ve only had the report for a few hours, so the Government instead of being transparent and accountable and giving us all a copy of the report when they got it on Friday, has

effectively left the rest of us in the dark. So we’ve had a look at the recommendations and they look good and reasonable to us, we support them in principle, and we’ll be able to provide a more fulsome response to those in the coming days.

PETERSON: What’s your immediate response though to what you have read, Clare, because at the moment we’re still sifting through everything but nobody appears to be really held responsible for anything.

O’NEIL: Well that’s the real issue about accountability, isn’t it? And one of the thing that we’ve been saying going into this Royal Commission is that we don’t want Australians to have to two justice systems where if you steal from a bank you go to jail, but if a banker steals from you they seem to get a bonus at the end of the year and a promotion. So Commissioner Hayne has made some recommendations that some specific actions and activities that the banks have undertaken should be subject to review by ASIC for potential civil and criminal wronging. I think there are a lot of people who were expecting Commissioner Hayne to go a bit further and to say more about that. But he’s obviously felt that that is the job of the regulator, of ASIC and APRA, to really investigate those claims. But there’s a long way to run on the accountability question here. And he’s gone some way to say that he’s pointed out specific conduct that he thinks probably broke the law and we’ll hear more about that as ASIC and APRA investigate those matters.

PETERSON: We’ve had some callers already this afternoon, Clare, indicate that maybe we need to nationalise one of the banks again, we need to have a Government bank to try and keep our private banks honest. Would that ever happen again?

O’NEIL: Well, the reason that Labor pushed for a Royal Commission was so that we could ask someone who is an expert in this area to provide recommendations about what should be done to fix up the poor conduct, and Commissioner Hayne hasn’t made any recommendation that resembles that. It would be a bit hypocritical for Labor to have pushed so hard for a Royal Commission and then to basically say that we’re going to throw this Royal Commission report in the bin and start afresh with our own view of what the world should look like. So we’re just respectful of Commissioner Hayne, he’s done a lot of work to make sure that there are good steps forward. I think there some areas where it’s possible that Labor will look to go a little bit further than Commissioner Hayne has done. But on the point of nationalisation that’s probably not something we’ll be looking at without a firm recommendation from him.

PETERSON: As I’ve said a couple of times today, it’s really common sense, we are all involved in all of our major banks in some way, shape or form, whether or not we are members of that bank through shares or indirectly via our superannuation fund. So Australia, as you and I are aware Clare, relies on a very

strong banking sector. Is it going to be hard to navigate the next couple of weeks and months - potentially there a change of Government if you get the keys to Canberra?

O’NEIL: I don’t think this is a major area of concern, Oliver. And I just say that because what Australians should be worried about is a financial sector that they can’t trust. If we’ve got a finance sector where people are routinely breaking the law, and getting away with it, that’s really bad for the economy. It might not be bad for the economy right now but this is the sort of thing that sows the seeds of financial disasters to come. So it’s right that we have got a reckoning now. It’s right that Labor has pushed so hard for this opportunity to say we’re going to stop it here, this conduct is not going to continue. So I think that in the long run it’s going to be very positive and very good for the Australian economy. Anyone who is out there saying that having bankers that behave unethically, bankers who break the law and face no repercussions, who treat their customers badly, who treat the regulator badly, that that’s somehow good for the economy - that’s wrong, that’s wrong. And we should never fall for that. The sort of people who would say that sort of thing don’t want any regulation at all. And it’s important that we have a sector that we can trust. And this is a pathway back to that.

PETERSON: Clare O’Neil, thank you for your time.

O’NEIL: Terrific, thanks for having me on.



Authorised by Noah Carrol, ALP, Canberra