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Transcript of doorstop interview: Brisbane: 5 February 2019: Banking Royal Commission



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CHRIS BOWEN MP SHADOW TREASURER SHADOW MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS MEMBER FOR MCMAHON

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP BRISBANE TUESDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2019

SUBJECTS: Banking Royal Commission.

JO BRISKEY, CANDIDATE FOR BONNER: Hi my name is Jo Briskey and I am Labor's candidate for the electorate of Bonner where we are here today. I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Chris down here to the Port of Brisbane, an incredible piece of infrastructure, being able to watch the economy at work here locally here in Brisbane so absolutely thrilled to welcome Chris.

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Well thanks very much Jo and thanks for everything you’re doing for the people of Bonner, representing the great Labor cause here in Bonner. We have high hopes for you in the election and to be a very effective local member as well should the people of Bonner choose you to be.

Well of course here we have the implementation, the recommendations of this Royal Commission. The Royal Commission that Scott Morrison never wanted us to have. We've seen today Josh Frydenberg in a pathetic attempt to avoid responsibility for this Government's mishandling of the Royal Commission somehow attempting after six years of an Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government to say it's the Labor Party's fault. All Australians would be disgusted with this attempt to avoid responsibility for what's happened over the last six years and to yet again have this one speed Treasurer blaming the Labor Party for his lack of action and his Government’s lack of action.

Malcolm Turnbull today has recognised that it was wrong to delay the Royal Commission. Malcolm Turnbull has said that with the power of hindsight that he should have called it much earlier. Bill Shorten and Labor didn't need the power of hindsight when we called for a Royal Commission three years ago. It was hugely controversial. Plenty of commentators and the normal suspects said the Labor Party was wrong. Well it was the Liberal Party that has been proven wrong in their

judgment yet again. Scott Morrison should do the decent and honourable thing and apologise on behalf of his Government to banking scandal victims (inaudible) all Australians for getting this so terribly wrong. If the Royal Commission had been held three years ago we now have the report implemented, we wouldn’t be arguing about which parts should be implemented and how it would be done. Australians would be been working with a banking system with which they could have more faith, more trust and the economy would be better served by a banking system which was working properly based on good ethics. But because of this Government's entire lack of judgement, entire lack of willingness and ability to stand up to vested interests and stand up for consumers, here we are all these years later now only finally seeing the results of the Royal Commission. Now the Government's at sixes and sevens saying they’ll take action on the recommendations, not saying they’ll adopt the recommendations. Labor accepts in principle the recommendations. We've adopted the recommendations and we'll work through with a Treasury implementation taskforce if we come to office in close consultation with the sector, with all affected parties, implementation details, the timing matters and making sure that it's done as smoothly as possible in consultation with (inaudible) but I think the Australian people would be glad to see today Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg, the Government simply do the right thing, cop it on the chin, admit they were wrong. Do what Malcolm Turnbull has at least had the grace to do after leaving office and admit that they got this terribly wrong, to say sorry to the Australian people for having done so.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Well with respect the Government has not said they accept the recommendations in principle. If you look at Josh Frydenberg’s weasel words he says they agree to ‘take action’. That does not mean accepting the recommendations. What does that mean in relation to all the recommendations? Well that's a matter for them to explain. Our position is having looked at it over the course of yesterday that we accept in principle the recommendations. Some of them will take a lot of implementation, some of them will take a lot of consultation. Others of them could be done quite quickly and could be done before the election. And if the Government was fair dinkum they would sit down with the Labor Party, Bill and I and the Labor Party are happy to do so. Prioritise recommendations, agreed to extend Parliament. That’s what we are paid to do, turn up to Parliament and make laws and legislation. This Prime Minister has a part-time Parliament and the Treasurer has been using that as an excuse today to say ‘Well we might not get much done because the Parliament is not sitting much’. Well guess who decides when the Parliament sits? The Government. Sit the Parliament and then we are happy to pass the relevant pieces of legislation which can be sensibly implemented before the election. We are happy to do so.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: As many as it takes (inaudible) We are the Party (inaudible) If the Parliament is not sitting it won’t mean anything. We are happy to turn up and would like the Parliament to be sitting. Our offer is genuine. We don’t think the Australian people should have to wait until August or longer to see some of these recommendations implemented. We think, not all of them, we are being reasonable they can’t all be done quickly but some of them could be done quickly, legislation passed and I think that will give the Australian people some comfort that the Parliament is doing its job (inaudible)

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Well the Royal Commission doesn’t recommend that they be done urgently, the Royal Commission doesn’t recommend that they be done tomorrow or next year. They recommend a longer lead time because there are all sorts of implications. That’s appropriate so we would as I said we have accepted the recommendations in principle, all the recommendations in principle and we would sit down with all affected parties through a Treasury Implementation task force and make sure it is done as smoothly as possible.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: The Royal Commission hasn’t set a timeframe (inaudible).

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Well let’s be very clear we support measures to promote further banking competition. I spent a lot of time talking to the smaller banks, financial institutions, credit unions about their agenda including for example the Hammond review, changes to the corporations act to insure fair access to capital and all sorts of things can be done. The Royal Commissioner deals with pretty clearly and robustly with the unintended consequences in his report. We have some experience here. Bill and I legislated the Future of Financial Advice reforms against the ferocious opposition of the Liberal Party. And people were saying there will be all sorts of consequences if we made financial planners actually work in the best interest of their clients. It doesn’t seem to revolutionary now but it was at the time and we removed conflicted remuneration. Now we are seeing similar arguments being raised with what their track records we can implement these things quickly and carefully in consultation with the sector

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Well let’s be very clear, prosecutions are a matter for the regulators. Ministers don’t prosecute. We would have high expectations of the regulators, I

would make that clear to them on becoming the Treasurer in an incoming Labor Government should we be elected. But of course decisions about prosecutions will remain independent.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Well the Royal Commission has recommended a new oversight body of regulation which we have accepted and adopted and we would do so.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Individual banks can respond, there has been no recommendation from the Royal Commissioner about individuals. He has made some observations and I will leave it to those banks to respond as to how they’ve taken those observations.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: I will leave NAB to explain how they intend to take the quite strong words of the Royal Commissioner.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: We have accepted the recommendations, the report’s recommendations in principle and we will work with all people to ensure sensible recommendations. We have always said that we would support sensible measures to see reductions in duplications. There will be a range of views expressed and as I said, unlike the Government which is cherry picking which parts we like and which parts we don’t like, we accept the recommendations in principle and we will move in close consultation with all affected parties to see them recommended.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: I’ve answered your question. We accept the recommendation in principle, we will have an implementation task force to work through the details.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: The recommendation of the report is one that we have accepted in principle.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: In my six years as either Treasurer or Shadow Treasurer I’ve never commented or predicted an interest rate movement and I don’t intend to start today.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Look the first thing to say is that obviously the Royal Commissioner has done a very thorough job. However of course as the alternative Government we would reserve the right to say more before the election about what we think would be necessary to ensure trust in the banking system and appropriate dealing for all banking victims of banking scandals. The Government had the report for three days, we have had the report for less than 24 hours and we will take some time to consider whether we think anything further is necessary. But we would be very clear about that before an election.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Well he has had plenty of chances to call an election and he doesn’t seem very keen.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Look I’m not here to second-guess what the Royal Commission has process has been. As I said if we think there are areas where we would like to have further policy then we will consider that under our normal processes. We have been waiting to see this Royal Commission report and we will have more to say. On remuneration I will just say this more broadly, the Finance Sector Union I mean the Prime Minister likes to talk about union thugs in quite a dismissive and arrogant way. The Finance Sector Union for 20 years has been pointing out that some of the remuneration structures in banks have been rewarding and encouraging less than desirable behaviour, in pressuring bank staff to sell products they know or suspect a customer does not want or need. For 20 years the Finance Sector Union has been saying that and the Finance Sector Union has been vindicated in that view. I think a bit of humility from the Prime Minister, instead of talking about union thugs actually instead recognising sometimes unions add a bit of value and actually sometimes a union has been banging on about this for 20 years has got it right would be more in keeping with the right tone to set in this case.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Nice try mate. Six years I haven’t commented on interest rates and you can ask me again if you want but I’m not going to start today.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: I receive letters from people on all sorts of issues. I don’t (inaudible) on a regular basis. I have received letters from people who don’t support our policy and

I have received letters from people who do, including people who will be affected. People are absolutely entitled to express their views as they do on this and a whole range of matters. I get letters about live export and this matter and all sorts of matters every day.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: Look I was making the point that the Labor Party is putting our plans out there for people to judge. The Government doesn’t. The Liberal Party doesn’t. The Liberal Party threw 100,000 people off the aged pension after promising no changes to the pension. They didn’t have the courage to tell older Australians what their plans were. They reduced the age pension for 300,000 people. Now we are allowing the Australian people to judge our plans in total. Our investments in preschool, in schools and education, our commitments across the board to make the tax system better and fairer and we are laying our plans out with choices for the Australian people. We take not one vote, not one seat, not one voter for granted. Not one. And we will be asking for the votes of all Australians. We treat all Australians with respect but we treat all Australians with respect by telling them what our plans and ideas are. Some people may disagree with those plans. We have the courage of our convictions to tell them what our plans are and as Bill Shorten said (inaudible). I think Australians are sick of politicians who think something is right but don’t have the courage for an election and stick with it and that’s what we have been doing.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BOWEN: No Treasurer in my experience I think since interest rates became independently set in 1996 has expressed a prediction about interest rates nor have the sensible Treasurers sent messages to the Reserve Bank through the media, as much as I admire and respect you all. Treasurers or Shadow Treasurers (inaudible) nor should we provide commentary on the independence of interest rates, I haven’t done so for six years. Wayne Swan didn’t. Peter Costello didn’t. Other Treasurers haven’t and I wouldn’t (inaudible).

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: JAMES CULLEN 0409 719 879