The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) has said that Labor’s call for a royal commission is a “political tactic” aimed at “undermining confidence in the banking system”.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten called for a royal commission into misconduct in the banking industry in early April. Along with negative gearing, it became one of the most hotly debated themes of the federal election.
While the coalition ultimately secured its place in government on 2 June, Labor has not backed down on its bashing of the big banks.
Further, Tony Burke MP, the manager of opposition business, has suggested recently that Labor intends to move parliamentary motions for a suspension of standing orders in favour of a debate and vote on the proposed inquiry when Parliament resumes next week.
The move has been lambasted by the ABA, whose chief executive Steven Münchenberg said: “It says a lot that Labor has not produced a terms of reference in the four months since it first called for a royal commission — yet has clearly locked down its use as a political tactic against the government.
“Labor has made all sorts of claims for a royal commission but clearly the real reason is just to attack the government.”
Mr Münchenberg added that it is “disappointing that this political tactic risks undermining confidence in our banking system which sits at the core of the economy, at a time of growing global uncertainty”.
“In the meantime, banks will get on with implementing comprehensive new measures to protect customer interests, increase transparency and accountability and build trust and confidence in banks,” he said.
The ABA’s comments have been picked up by Bill Shorten MP, who tweeted:
No, you're wrong. It's for the thousands of people who've been ripped off by dodgy banking practices. https://t.co/nyiPw45chn— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) 23 August 2016
Mr Shorten also tweeted on Friday that “only a royal commission will deliver the systematic, structural and cultural change that is long overdue”.
Although the ABA has criticised the Labor party’s approach to the commission, other financial bodies have supported Labor’s royal commission call.
Earlier this week, Peter White of the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) supported the need for a royal commission into the banking industry, saying: “How ironic for bankers to sign an oath promising to lift values and ethics when the spotlight is now on them for filling their pockets and failing to pass on the full interest rate cuts…
“A need for an oath to uphold better values simply tells me and the community that banks are admitting they haven’t acted ethically in the past,” he said.
“Let’s put this bill to Parliament and bring on a royal commission as this behaviour is offensive to borrowers and depositors across Australia.”