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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9354

Banking and Financial Services

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:21): My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. Senator Cormann, the letter from the bank CEOs to the Treasurer was dated this morning. Did you make a decision to call a royal commission this morning or have you had other discussions with the banks? If so, will you provide the details of those discussions to the Senate?

Senator CORMANN ( Western Australia Minister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate ) ( 14:21 ): I can confirm that the government made a decision this morning.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, a supplementary question.

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:21): When this parliament set up two parliamentary commissions of inquiry, we consulted with not only the financial sector but also victims of misconduct and other stakeholders, including community legal centres. You've already said that you've consulted with Treasury, the RBA and the banks on this royal commission. Will the government commit to consulting with other victims for their terms of reference?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:22): The government's announcement today is self explanatory. We did not believe—and it is a matter of public record—that a royal commission was the appropriate way forward. But, given how this debate has evolved and given the increasingly political nature of the debate and how it was impacting on a very important sector for the future success of our economy, we made the judgement that, in the circumstances that Australia had reached and in the national interest, it was appropriate to make the decision that we have made. All of the appropriate consultations have taken place, and the Prime Minister and the Treasurer will continue to make relevant announcements as appropriate.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, a final supplementary question.

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:23): Currently, banks are only required to keep financial records for seven years. We've seen catastrophes like forestry managed investment schemes in 2009, eight years, ago, and the Storm Financial collapse in 2009, eight years ago. People walking down Collins Street or in Martin Place today might be wondering if it is the sound of shredders that they can hear. Minister, will the government request that the banks do not destroy any documents relative to this royal commission?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:23): It is interesting that Senator Whish-Wilson is going through the list of years that all these various financial disasters happened, because they all happened under the watch of the Rudd-Gillard Labor-Green government—and, of course, the Labor Party did nothing. In fact, the Labor Party in government said that there was no need for a comprehensive inquiry into the financial system. When former shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey recommended a comprehensive financial systems inquiry, the Labor Party dismissed it and said that that wasn't warranted and wasn't appropriate. We know why the Labor Party has been pursuing this: it is purely politics. Mr Shorten doesn't care about people who are victims of financial—

Senator Whish-Wilson: Mr President, a point of order on relevance: I asked a specific question about whether the government would be requesting that the banks don't destroy any relevant documents.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, the minister is directly addressing other issues that you raised in the preamble to your question.

Senator CORMANN: Firstly, we expect, and we are confident, that the banks will comply with all the relevant laws, and we will expect them to cooperate with the royal commission. It's going to be a matter for the commissioners to determine all of the relevant terms— (Time expired)