MONDAY, 19 AUGUST 2019
SUBJECTS: Liberals dragging feet on Banking Royal Commission Recommendations; public service review.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg voted against the Banking Royal Commission 26 times and now they're dragging their feet implementing its recommendations. These Liberals spent two years resisting the Banking Royal Commission and now they tell us they want to take two years to implement the recommendations.
We cannot trust the Liberals when it comes to cracking down on rorts and rip-offs in the banking system. They've been dragged kicking and screaming to this announcement today. They've been shamed into it because for six months since they received the report of the Banking Royal Commission they've done next to nothing.
Victims of banking misconduct in this country will be deeply disappointed after waiting for six months for some kind of action to now learn that they have to wait another 15 months before the Government will implement the recommendations of the Commission. This is a Government whose heart is not in getting justice for victims of banking misconduct. This is a Liberal Party which will always go slow and always go soft on the banks when it comes to the serious rorts and rip-offs which were uncovered in the Banking Royal Commission.
The Government has had the Banking Royal Commission report for six months and now all we're getting today is a half-hearted implementation plan. This is not an action plan; this is an excuse for 15 more months of inaction on the important recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission. What we need to see is the implementation of the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission in a timely way so that victims of banking misconduct can get the changes that they need and deserve.
We want to see confidence restored in our financial system. We need to ensure that the Australian people have that confidence that the banking system is working for them and not against them. The best way to do that would be to implement the recommendations in a more timely way, in a way that sends the signal - not just to the banks but to the broader Australian community - that this is a far higher priority than what has been adopted here by the Government.
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg pretended to care about rorts and rip-offs in the banks to get them through the election but since then and until now we've barely heard a peep from them about the recommendations. What we're seeing today is more dragging of the feet from the Government when it comes to dealing with banking misconduct; more dragging of the feet which has been a symbol of their inaction and their excuse-making and their finger-pointing over recent months.
JOURNALIST: 50 of the 54 Government recommendations they say will be implemented by the middle of next year. Do you acknowledge also that there's quite a lot of recommendations? A lot of them are quite complicated. Do they need to take their time to get this right?
CHALMERS: It's important the recommendations are implemented in a responsible way but also a timely way. The point that I'm making today is it is inexcusable for the Government to have taken six months just to come up with an implementation plan. The Government should have got cracking on these recommendations six months ago. Instead they've delayed for six months, they pretended to care to get them through the election and all we're seeing today is more excuses for more inaction. What they're saying today by their own admission is that the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission won't be implemented at the earliest until the end of next year. That means almost two years between receiving the recommendations from Commissioner Hayne and actually implementing them. I think the Australian community and particularly the victims of banking misconduct will be very disappointed to learn after waiting for six months for action, all they get today is an implementation plan which won't even be completed at the earliest until the end of next year.
JOURNALIST: Just quickly on the public service overhaul that the Prime Minister is pushing. Do you think it's a bit hypocritical for them to demand more from the public service at the same time as they have got consultants charging $16,000 a day to do consulting work?
CHALMERS: Absolutely, and you've gone right to the nub of the problem there. We have had six years under this Liberal Government of hollowing out of the public service at the same time as they spend billions and billions of dollars on very expensive contractors and consultants and labour hire. The problem here is when Scott Morrison sees the public service, he sees another opportunity for conflict not collaboration. When he deals with the good people of the Australian public service, he sees them as something that needs to be tamed, not something that needs to be tapped.
We need a different approach for the public service here. We have a terrific public service. We've got David Thodey who's done - with his team - a heap of work on how we can make the public service even better. We call on the Government to stop going down the path of these arbitrary public service caps which just cost billions and billions extra in labour hire, to stop attacking the public service, to stop blaming the public service for the fact that the Government has no plan to turn this floundering economy around. Scott Morrison needs to work with the public service, to come up with a plan for the future, especially a plan to deal with the challenges in our economy. Instead he just sees it as another opportunity for conflict not collaboration and he sees the public service as something that needs to be tamed, not tapped.
JOURNALIST: On the banking recommendations, will Labor work with the Government to get them through Parliament as quickly as possible?
CHALMERS: Absolutely we want to see the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission implemented in a timely and responsible way. We have played a constructive role since the very beginning. We called for the Banking Royal Commission some two years before the Government rolled over and actually instituted one. They resisted that for that two-year period. We called for the Banking Royal Commission. We've played a constructive role in supporting the recommendations of that Banking Royal Commission. We've done the right thing in our public commentary and in the Parliament. We intend to keep doing that, but what we say to the Government is it's not good enough to sit on their hands for six months - to sit on these recommendations for six months - and then to tell the victims of banking misconduct they have to wait at least another 15 months before the recommendations are implemented.
We'll do the right thing by banking victims, we'll do the right thing by the broader Australian community and the economy because what we need to see here is confidence restored in our financial system so that it can continue to play the important role that it does, free of these sorts of issues around rorts and rip-offs which have been discovered during the course of the Royal Commission that the Liberals didn't want.
Thanks very much.