The final report from the financial services royal commission could be released later than expected, after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said government will “take into account” its potential market impacts when determining when to release it.
While Commissioner Hayne is said to be “on track” to deliver the final report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry to the Governor-General by the agreed deadline of 1 February, there is still uncertainty as to whether the government will release the final report next Friday.
Earlier this week, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen wrote to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, urging him to release the royal commission’s final report once the government receives it.
Writing to the Treasurer, Chris Bowen MP said: “It is in the national interest for the Australian people and victims of banking scandals to be able to access the Hayne banking royal commission’s final report and form their own views, at the earliest opportunity, and that means on Friday, 1 February.
“I have written to the Treasurer requesting the release of the final report and related documents of the banking royal commission as soon as practicable after it is received by the government.”
He continued: “The Liberal Party has no excuses not to release the final report of the Hayne royal commission when they receive it on 1 February.
“Josh Frydenberg released the royal commission’s interim report on the day they received it – and that was appropriate,” he noted.
“Refusing to release the royal commission’s final report immediately would unnecessarily politicise the handling of the report and give rise to potential material market risks around leaks of all or part of the report,” the shadow treasurer added.
Investor Daily's sister publication The Adviser asked the federal Treasurer when the final report from the financial services royal commission would be publicly released.
In a statement, Mr Frydenberg said that any public release of the report and its recommendations would “take into account” its potential market ramifications.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “The government looks forward to receiving Commissioner Hayne’s final report by 1 February and considering its recommendations as we continue to reform the financial sector.
“The government recognises the potential market sensitivity of the final report and will take this into account in considering the timing of its release.”
This could suggest that the report may be released when the Australian Securities Exchange is closed, for example, in order to protect the stock market.
If the report is released after ASX trading hours, this would make the earliest release of the final report approximately 4pm Sydney time on 1 February, if not later.
However, no particulars have been disclosed by government.
The federal Treasurer added: “One wonders why Chris Bowen is so focused on the timing of the release of the report given last time we released a major report, with the Productivity Commission’s thousand page study into superannuation, he effectively ruled out one of their key recommendations to reform the default system 15 minutes after it was tabled and clearly before he had even read it.”
Further, the Treasurer told an audience at The Sydney Institute on Tuesday (22 January) that the central tenet of the government’s eventual response to the final report would be “restoring trust in the financial system by delivering better consumer outcomes”.
He continued: “This requires a culture of compliance and accountability, regulators that are fit for purpose and an acknowledgement by the sector that people must be put before profits. All of this must be achieved without inadvertently strengthening the position of incumbents or unduly restricting the flow of credit or other vital financial services that Australians need and the economy relies on.
“In his interim report, Commissioner Hayne makes the telling observation that “much more often than not, the conduct now condemned was contrary to the law”. He makes clear that while behaviour was poor, misconduct when revealed was insufficiently punished or not punished at all.
“This raises the issue as to whether new laws are required or whether existing laws simply need to be better enforced. Simplification may be, according to the commissioner, a better route rather than adding ‘an extra layer of legal complexity to an already complex regulatory regime’,” Mr Frydenberg concluded.
The government had previously announced that they would be withholding their response to the recently released Productivity Commission into Superannuation report due to the royal commission’s final report.
It is expected that the final report will pick up on some of the themes from the interim report as well as including recommendations to the government.