The opposition has called on the coalition government to extend the Hayne royal commission after listening to victims of the banks.
Labor leader Bill Shorten made the comments after a town hall meeting with Victorians in the federal seat of Deakin.
“We’ve heard today from victims of the banks, we’ve heard from small businesses, we’ve heard from women trapped in domestic violent relationships. We’ve heard from people who were the victims of crime and then became victims of crime again reinjured through the processes of careless greedy negligent banks,” he said.
The opposition leader said it was clear from the royal commission that the banks were guilty of ripping off ordinary Australians.
“The banks should be ashamed of themselves. In Australia if you steal from the banks you go to jail but if the banks steal from you they get a bonus and a promotion and a bigger profit,” he said.
Mr Shorten said he thought the Hayne Royal Commission was doing a great job and that what they had exposed would wake up the industry.
"This is the biggest wake-up call that we've seen in Australian corporate history," he said.
Mr Shorten said that Labor called on the government to extend the royal commission and demanded an apology from the guilty parties.
“I think the people in power and regulators owe a big apology to the tens of thousands of victims of banking in Australia. We want to see Mr Morrison extend the royal commission,” he said.
Mr Shorten said that Scott Morrison's track record on the royal commission called into question his ability to implement any changes.
“On 26 occasions the current Prime Minister, when he was Treasurer, voted against the royal commission. The action of him rejecting the banking royal commission 26 times speaks far louder than the words in our mouths.
“I've got my doubts that this government and this prime minister can be trusted to implement what comes out of the RC,” he said.
Mr Shorten acknowledged that Labor potentially should have called for a royal commission years ago but reiterated the parties support for the victims.
“Labor just wants to say to all the victims of the banks, we hear you and sure maybe things should have been done a lot longer ago but for the last 2 years we’ve stood up for the victims and today we are putting a submission into the royal commission just drawing attention to our knowledge and the voices we hear,” he said.
There would be challenges ahead in regulating banks as it was hard to legislate against being a bully said Mr Shorten.
“Some of the conduct we have heard is illegal and you shouldn’t have to pass a law to say don’t charge dead people for services that they are not getting. Some things are allowed within the law and they just exploit,” he said.
Blame was also to be put on the regulators who gave out the equivalent of corporate speeding tickets to banks, said the opposition leader.
“The regulators have found this royal commission to be highly embarrassing as they should. Having said that it does go back to the banks. The system is broken when it comes ethical protections of consumer and customers,” he said.
It is not enough to come to parliament to apologise said Mr Shorten and he said executives at banks should think about how they show they mean it.
“If the boards of banks and CEOs were to hand back some of the bonuses they’ve received whilst they were in charge of banks whilst they were exploiting ordinary Aussies. It doesn’t change where the victims are but it would be a good down payment,” he said.
This town hall meeting was the first of many as the Shadow Minister for Financial Services Clare O'Neil is currently undertaking a series of roundtables with victims in towns that have not been visited by the Royal Commission.
The move by labor was announced following the release of the interim report with Mr Shorten outlining that despite over 9000 submissions, the hearing had only heard from 27 customers.
“All of the hearings of the commission have been in just three capital cities; regional and rural customers have not had a sufficient chance to have their say in this process.
“Misconduct in the financial services sector is a national issue, and Australians across the country deserve their chance to be heard.”
However, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has censured Mr Shorten for “threatening the independence, the authority of our royal commission”, stating earlier this month: “Bill Shorten first thought that he knew better than the royal commissioner saying there must be an extension of time, when the royal commissioner has yet to ask for it. Now he thinks he is the royal commissioner by conducting his own hearings and running a parallel process around the country.”
However, when asked whether the government would extend the commission further, should Commissioner Hayne ask for one, the Treasurer has previously said: “If he asks for more time, he has got it”.
Eliot Hastie is a journalist at Momentum Media, writing primarily for its wealth and financial services platforms.
Eliot joined the team in 2018 having previously written on Real Estate Business with Momentum Media as well.
Eliot graduated from the University of Westminster, UK with a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism).
You can email him on: [email protected]