Action so far on Banking Royal Commission “pathetic”: Labor

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Labor says the Government’s action so far on implementing the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission is “pathetic”.

Labor Shadow Minster for Financial Services Stephen Jones accused the Government of being more interested in “union busting” than implementing the recommendations of the Banking (Superannuation, and Financial Services) Royal Commission.

“308 days after the report was handed down Scott Morrison and the Liberals have completed a pathetic 6 of the 76 Banking Royal Commission Recommendations, instead opting to prioritise their union busting bill,” s Jones.

“It’s the final sitting day for 2019 and the Government hasn’t even listed the Banking Royal Commission Bills meaning they won’t be passed this year.”

In the second last sitting week of 2019, the Government introduced two Bills including measures it said it would put before the Parliament from the Royal Commission before the end of the year – the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response—Protecting Consumers (2019 Measures)) Bill 2019 and the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response—Stronger Regulators (2019 Measures)) Bill 2019. But the reintroduced Ensuring Integrity No.2 Bill was given a higher priority in the House of Representatives.

One of the six recommendations the Government said would be “consulted on and introduced [to Parliament] by end-2019” was for the removal of the claims handling exemption for insurance. Treasury only started a public consultation process draft legislation for this measure on 29 November 2019, and it is open until early January. Parliament is not due to sit until February 4.

Jones called on the Prime Minister to explain why it was more important to reintroduce the “failed Union Busting Bill than keep their election promise and implement the Banking Royal Commission recommendations”.

He went on to say the “failure” to implement the recommendations meant Australians were left without protections from unfair insurance contracts, unscrupulous financial advisers will go unpunished, mortgage brokers won’t have the duty to act in the best interest of consumers, and industry codes of conduct will “remain completely unenforceable”. Neither the Coalition or Labor support the Royal Commission recommendation on the remuneration of mortgage brokers.

“A week after Westpac were found to have committed 23 million breaches of money laundering laws, it beggars belief that the Government does not see implementing the Banking Royal Commission as a priority,” said Jones.

“The Government has a dismal record when it comes to the banks. ”

“Scott Morrison and the Liberals voted against the Royal Commission 26 times and are dragging its feet on implementing the Commission’s recommendations.”

But Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg has accused Labor of spreading “fake news”. He said, in a tweet, that 90% of the Royal Commission recommendations would be implemented or introduced to Parliament by mid 2020, saying this was “ambitious implementation”.

Aside from the fact that Labor was criticising the Government for what they have done so far, not what they might do at some point in the future, having 90% of the recommendations in place or with Bills before Parliament by mid next year is far more ambitious than the Government’s own timetable.

The Government earlier in the year released the Financial Services Royal Commission Implementation Roadmap. It has 13% of recommendations introduced to Parliament (not necessarily passed) by end of 2019, and 71% by mid 2020. Including the Government’s ‘additional commitments’ – things which the Government plans to do, but weren’t recommended by the Royal Commission – actually brings it down to 70% by mid-2020.

Government timetable for Banking Royal Commission recommendations

A number of recommendations are up to regulators or industry to implement, with only some of these having dates in the timetable.

For three of the recommendations it is up to the Government to implement – one default super account, regulating mortgage brokers as financial advisers, and a national farm debt mediation scheme – there is no date for implementation.

More to come.

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