Labor calls Royal Commission inadequate

Alex Burke,  Senior Writer,  No More Practice Education

Labor has responded to Kenneth Hayne's interim report, arguing that the "tight timeframe" of the Royal Commission left "very little time to hear from victims of misconduct."

In a paper co-authored by Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen and Clare O'Neil, Labor said it was "no secret that the Morrison Government never wanted a Royal Commission," noting that Morrison himself labelled the prospect a "populist whinge."

As a result, the paper argued, the Commission was unable to field anything approaching the more than 10,000 submissions made, ultimately hearing from 27 people. Following on from the party's calls to extend the Commission, Labor has since met with victims of financial misconduct in a series of roundtables across the country in order to hear (and publish) their views.

 

Examining in greater detail

Labor said these roundtables provided "additional clarity and breadth to the preliminary conclusions about bank culture that the Commissioner outlined in his interim report," adding that they also exposed issues with process and culture "that were touched on only briefly in the interim report, or were not covered at all."

The paper highlights stories of people feeling "forced to give up" as a result of expensive litigation, stonewalling by financial institutions, "inappropriate surveillance" and "continuous changes in who customers are dealing with at the bank, causing them to have to retell their story and relitigate the same arguments over and over again."

 

What would Labor have the Commission do?

Beyond calls for extension, Labor (via Shorten) has also previously suggested banks should be "stripped of their rights" to manage superannuation. Labor has also called for ASX 100 companies to disclose the ratio of chief executive pay to median employee from the 2021 financial year as a move to increase corporate transparency

In this submission, Labor argued for changes to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, saying "participants [in the roundtable] expressed concern that the Commissioner may not have gathered sufficient evidence to make recommendations for significant reforms to [AFCA]."

It stands to reason, then, that a potential Shorten government would be looking for more wide-ranging reforms to the financial services sector than the interim report has recommended thus far.


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