Morrison defends timing of bank commission

27/04/2020 Posted by admin

Treasurer Scott Morrison says employers are struggling to find workers, so wages will go up.Treasurer Scott Morrison has again warned the “despicable behaviour” recently uncovered by the banking royal commission carries jail sentences under federal law.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia was again under the spotlight on Thursday, after the commission heard one of its units had been extracting fees from dead people, in one case for more than a decade.

The horrifying revelation comes after the inquiry heard earlier this week that wealth manager AMP had charged clients for advice they never received and repeatedly lied to the corporate watchdog.

“This type of despicable behaviour does carry jail sentences under the Corporations Act,” Mr Morrison warned on Thursday.

“We’re getting on with making sure the penalties are up to scratch, to see what additional improvements can be made.”

The treasurer also defended the government’s previous decision not to rush into a royal commission, as Labor had demanded, pointing to the recent introduction of its banking executive accountability regime and more funds to strengthen the powers of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

“Now the royal commission is now underway, (and) we ensured that it had broader terms of reference,” Mr Morrison said in Geelong.

The commission is not just looking at the major banks, as Labor initially proposed. It’s also eyeing misconduct in the superannuation and financial services industries, including insurance.

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wants Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to apologise for opposing a royal commission for two years.

“Even when he finally relented and allowed it to go ahead, Mr Turnbull called the royal commission ‘regrettable’,” Mr Shorten told AAP.

“The only thing ‘regrettable’ about all of this is that this disgraceful behaviour has gone on for so long and that this royal commission didn’t start sooner.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann indicated the government would be open to extending the inquiry beyond its current deadline, which is to provide a final report by February 1 next year.

“If the royal commissioner (Justice Kenneth Hayne) says to us that there is more work to be done, that he needs more time, then obviously the government would act on that,” he told 2GB radio.

This week’s extraordinary and damning evidence saw a number of MPs and financial market commentators opposed to the inquiry do an about-face.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was one of those who admitted he got it wrong.

“What I have heard is, so far is beyond disturbing,” he tweeted.

Asked if “dodgy bankers’ should go to prison if they broke the law and ripped off customers, Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said: “Absolutely”.

Australian Associated Press

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