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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3271

Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry

Ms MADELEINE KING (Brand) (15:04): My question is to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has said his decision to block a royal commission for almost two years was 'just a political error'. Is he aware that this meant a two-year delay of reports that the Commonwealth Bank continued to charge customers fees for advice that was never provided and charged fees even though a customer had been dead for 10 years? Why is the Prime Minister rewarding big business with an $80 billion handout, including over $17 billion for the big banks?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (15:05): I thank the honourable member for her question. As I've said publicly, the decision that I took two years ago not to hold a royal commission into the banks—and I take full responsibility for it—was because I believed we should get on with the substantive reforms to protect consumers to give people real redress, and we have done that. We have put in place a one-stop shop for consumers and small business to get cost-effective relief when they've had the wrong thing done to them by banks. That's a very big reform. We've obviously strengthened ASIC. We've given it more money and more powers. We've also introduced a Banking Executive Accountability Regime and many other reforms.

That was the decision that the government took, and I take full responsibility for it. I called out the problem in 2016, almost two years ago precisely, when I said that what had happened was that a culture had developed where customers were not put first. The royal commission is being held, and many of the cases that are coming before it, the honourable member says, would not have come to the light of day without a royal commission. That may well be so, but the fact of the matter is the royal commission has broad terms of reference. It is up and running. It has not simply the ability to examine the matters before it, in terms of past wrongdoings by banks and other financial institutions but the mandate to examine the effectiveness and appropriateness of the reforms we've already put in place. The important thing is putting the customers first. It's the mistake the banks and various financial advisers and others made in not putting them first, and I can say to the honourable member and all honourable members that we are determined that (1) this wrongdoing will not happen again and (2) those who have done the wrong thing will be held to account.