Doorstop - Brisbane (20)

20 April 2018




SUBJECT/S: Banking Royal Commission, Centrelink debts


JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Thanks for coming out to the old stomping ground at Griffith University, Nathan campus. I thought I'd say a few things about the Banking Royal Commission before taking questions. Having campaigned for this Banking Royal Commission for two years now, Labor is pleased to see it is doing a good job uncovering some very serious scandals in our banking system. Labor campaigned for this Royal Commission against the fierce resistance of Malcom Turnbull’s Liberal Party. Every day, every new revelation, vindicates our position on the Banking Royal Commission, and is an indictment on Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberal Party. We support Commissioner Hayne having the time and resources that he needs to do his job properly, we support tougher penalties for people who are caught doing the wrong thing, and we also think financial compensation should be part of the conversation as well.


Australians are asking themselves why did Malcolm Turnbull want these rorts and rip-offs in our banks covered up for so long? Why did Malcolm Turnbull fight for so long to keep these rorts and rip offs in our baking system secret from the broader Australian community? Why did Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party want Australians kept in the dark about these very serious revelations which are coming out on a daily basis from the Banking Royal Commission? The answer is that Malcolm Turnbull will never properly crack down on the banks because he is of that world. Malcolm Turnbull's form is to side with the big banks against the Australian people, against the interests of the broader Australian community. Malcolm Turnbull will never side with the victims of financial scandals because he always sides with the top end of town.


The Liberal Party will never properly crack down on bad behaviour in our banks because they have been trying to cover up these scandals, these rorts and rip offs for years, with their resistance to the Banking Royal Commission. Malcom Turnbull described the Banking Royal Commission as “regrettable”, Kelly O’Dwyer described it as “a talk fest”, and Treasurer Scott Morrison described it as “a populist whinge”. This is what these characters really think about Commissioner Hayne’s efforts to get to the bottom of the serious scandals, ripoffs and rorts, that have been in our banking system for too long and damaging the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Australians right around the country.


Malcolm Turnbull needs to explain why he didn't want Australians to know that commissions were being charged from people who were dead, that he didn’t want people to know that people were paying for insurance policies that they couldn't then claim against. He tried to cover up the fact that people are getting very dodgy financial advice from financial advisors. The Liberal Party under Malcolm Turnbull will never crack down on bad behaviour in our banks because their heart is just not in it. We know that because when Labor strengthened the laws on financial advice, for example, the Liberal Party tried to water them down. These characters are so out of touch they will always side with the top end of town; they will always side with the big banks against the interests of middle Australia, and against the victims of these rorts and ripoffs, which have gone on for too long. 


JOURNALIST: The government says it’s going to announce criminal penalties of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million for individuals who do wrong thing, do those proposed penalties go far enough? 


CHALMERS: Obviously we support the strengthening of penalties for those caught doing the wrong thing in our in financial system. We just don't think the Liberal Party’s heart is in it, we don't think they will do it properly because their form has been to protect the big banks from scrutiny, rather than to prosecute these very serious revelations. We support stronger penalties, we support people paying a price for their poor behaviour in the financial services industry; we just don't think that the Liberal Party has the will or the competence to do it the right way. 


JOURNALIST: Given they've announced these penalties and the Royal Commission is underway, is it time for Labor to move on and just deal with the fallout that comes from this? 


CHALMERS: Well this Banking Royal Commission, unfortunately, has a long way still to run. We’ll hear more stories, more revelations, about scandalous behaviour about parts of our financial services sector, so unfortunately there will be more to respond to as the Royal Commission does its very good work. We will make an appropriate response at an appropriate time. But we say for now, that we support stronger penalties, we support Commissioner Hayne having the time and the resources to finish the job properly, and we think that compensation for the victims of these rorts and rip offs should be part of the conversation too. 


JOURNALIST: The AMP CEO has resigned this morning. Your thoughts on that?


CHALMERS: I think it is appropriate that the CEO of AMP has resigned today. The revelations that came out of that institution in the last couple of weeks were very serious indeed. He has taken responsibility for that in his statement today and has resigned. Our focus is on ensuring that the Liberal Party under Malcolm Turnbull does the right thing by the victims of these scandals, and properly prosecutes people, properly gives the Royal Commission the time and resources that it needs, and while they're at it, Malcom Turnbull should apologies to the Australian people for resisting for so long this Royal Commission that is doing such a good job of shining a light on this scandalous behaviour that has done such damage to the ordinary Australians. 


JOURNALIST: What do you make of the government's plan to go after 170,000 people who have welfare debts - threatening to charge them interest? 


CHALMERS: If people do the wrong thing in our social security system they should pay that money back. We want to ensure the Australian people are getting value for money, that their taxpayer dollars are going where it is appropriate. Our concern is that this is a Government that is responsible for the robodebt debacle, which was such a horrible episode in the history of social services in this country. Our concern is that the Government which brought us the robodebt debacle will now be asking people to supply records from 15 years ago. They will go about this in their usual ham-fisted way, with their usually bad motivations, which is to spend all of their time demonising people on social security, rather than properly trying to get value for money for the Australian people. It's also very curious, I think, the timing of this announcement. This is a Government desperate to distract from the fact that they resisted a Royal Commission into the banking system, so they do as they always do, which is to demonise vulnerable people, to distract from the fact they have left vulnerable people hanging in the in financial services sector by opposing this royal commission for so long. 


JOURNALIST: Does the ALP have proposed solutions on the banking system?


CHALMERS: We have a very proud record of strengthening the laws in the financial services industry. We were responsible for tightening the laws on financial advice to make sure we could decouple the provision of financial advice from the selling of financial products. The Liberal Party tried to water those laws down, which is true to form for them, they will always stand up for the top end of town against the interests of ordinary people. We've had revelations this week from a woman called Jacqueline, who received some very bad, some very dodgy financial advice, and is paying a heavy price for that still. If it were up to the Liberal Party they would have watered down the laws around financial advice so that kind of activity, that kind of dodgy advice, those putting the interest of the banks ahead of the interest of the consumers would have continued unhindered. I think that says it all about the Liberal Party approach to the banks. We will respond accordingly, as these revelations come to light at the Banking Royal Commission. The Banking Royal Commission was our idea in the first place. We are pleased to see it doing the work we wanted it to do. We will have more to say down the track about the regulators, about the compensation, about the appropriate penalties for people caught doing the wrong thing. We will make the response at the appropriate time. 


JOURNALIST: Could you actually see those who have been burned could still receive compensation, even though these people have got nothing to argue for?


CHALMERS: We think an important part of this conversation around the rorts and rip offs in the banking system should be how people are properly compensated when they have been victims of these scandals. There is a long time still to run on this Banking Royal Commission, the time will come for those kinds of conclusions to be reached, but we think that it should be part of the conversation. Bill Shorten has said again this week that compensation should be part of all the important considerations of the Banking Royal Commission.


JOURNALIST: When the Royal Commission is wrapped up and when we look back at this, in the future, how do you think the landscape will be changed after all of this is finished? 


CHALMERS: Well, it's just really important that we give the Australian people the confidence they need and deserve in their financial system, it's such an important part of the economy. It's a very strong part of the economy. There are lots of things we do well in this country when it comes to the regulation of our banks but there are obviously lots of things that have been done poorly as well. There has been a lot of bad behaviour that is being uncovered by this Banking Royal Commission, that's a good thing because we want to shine a light on this bad behaviour so we can get to the bottom of it so we can act. The best outcome would be, down the track, for us to deal with these issues, particularly the systemic issues, the issues around regulation, the issues around culture of the big banks. That we deal with these issues and we move forward and that ordinary Australians – families, pensioners and business – can have the confidence to know their banks are strong because they do the right thing. Not because they have gotten away with doing the wrong thing, which has been the case for too long under this Liberal Government.