The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull conceded that his government should have started the royal commission into the financial industry earlier than it did.
Mr Turnbull made the comments on Sky News saying that there was a good case for saying it should have been started under his leadership.
“You can make a very good case for saying it was started perhaps a year later than it should have been, or 18 months later than it should have been,” he said.
Mr Turnbull said hindsight had assisted him in forming his view particularly after seeing what the commission had uncovered.
“I believe, with the benefit of hindsight, we should have held the royal commission earlier, but I think what the royal commission has done is provided something of a shock, a shock treatment, to really ram home the need for that cultural change,” Mr Turnbull said.
“So I think that’s going to be very important because you’ve got to restore faith and confidence.”
Calls for the royal commission started back in April 2016 and were led by opposition leader Bill Shorten but it took until November 2017 for the Turnbull government to allow it.
Mr Turnbull said his government’s decision to delay it was in order to prioritise tougher regulation and compensation; something that couldn’t happen with a commission underway.
“We were well advanced with a compensation scheme to deal with the victims of various bank malpractices, I suppose is the best way to describe it, and that was put on hold when the royal commission was set up.”
Mr Shorten said, in the day following the report, that the Liberal party had been protecting the banks and did not want the commission to happen.
“The liberals protected the banks. Imagine if they had got their way and we didn’t have a banking royal commission, the rip-offs and the rorts and the vested interest, they’d still be laughing all the way to their profits,” said Mr Shorten.
Mr Turnbull rejected calls from the Labor party that he was seeking to protect the banks.
“I was coming at it and Scott was coming at it from a different position. We weren’t seeking to protect the banks – quite the contrary. I know that’s what the Labor Party says but that wasn’t our approach.”
Mr Morrison apologised in Parliament last year for not allowing the commission earlier.
“I regret that we did not do it earlier. I am pleased it is happening now,” he said.
However, Mr Morrison’s position was not backed up by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg who has continued to not apologise for voting against a commission.
When asked by reporters during yesterdays press conference if he was wrong to oppose the commission, the Treasurer placed the blame on Labor.
“We could debate for hours the failures when Labor was last in office, not forgetting Trio and Opes Prime and Storm Financial, all occurred those failures on their watch. I remember Bill Shorten saying how fantastic the regulatory system was in the financial sector when he was the minister for financial services. But he didn’t call a royal commission, he didn’t take action to bring these big banks to account, he didn’t put in place new standards which we have announced today and have been doing since the financial system’s inquiry was initiated by this government when we first came into power into 2013,” he said.
Frydenberg repeated this line of answers on ABC after the release of the report, instead saying that he was focused on the future.
“I’m looking to the future. When we first came to government, one of the first things we did was initiated David Murray's financial systems inquiry, a very significant inquiry that looked at the financial system and the recommendations of which we have been implementing ever since.”
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]
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