GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Banking Royal Commission Announced

1 December 2017
The Federal Government has announced a royal commission into the Australian banking, superannuation and financial services industries, following months of political pressure and a call from the big four banks to end the political uncertainty surrounding the sector. Together with Treasurer Scott MorrisonPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said ongoing speculation of a royal commission has proven “disruptive”, risking the reputation of Australia’s financial system. Under the draft terms of reference, the Commission – to be headed up by former High Court judge the Hon. Kenneth Madison Hayne AC – will consider the conduct of banks, insurance companies, financial service providers and superannuation funds, along with the regulatory systems in place to address poor behaviour within the sector. Described by Mr Turnbull as a “regrettable but necessary” step, the announcement follows further moves by Nationals senator Barry O’Sullivan to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the banking sector. A letter to the Treasurer signed by executives of each of the big four banks, released yesterday, called on the Government to “act decisively” and establish a “properly constituted” inquiry. See the media release here.

Same-sex marriage legislation passed the Senate without amendment this week, 43 votes to 12. Liberal senator Dean Smith, who sponsored the bill, said that Parliament has struck a precise balance between legalising same-sex marriage and maintaining existing religious protections. The result comes amid criticism from within Coalition ranks over the Prime Minister’s leadership on the matter, and calls for greater consultation with those who oppose same-sex marriage. Nationals MP Andrew Broad has alleged that Mr Turnbull “has let down many Australians” and hinted at “backbench disappointment” over the PM’s handling of the same-sex marriage legislation. The bill will require a majority of support in the House of Representatives in order to formally pass into law; the Lower House will consider the bill next week. See the media coverage here.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has this morning called for Prime Minister Turnbull to step down as a “Christmas gift” to the Australian people. Speaking to Alan Jones on 2GB, the Nationals MP said he had “lost all hope” in the Prime Minister following the LNP’s likely election loss in Queensland and labelled the PM “out of touch”. The criticism prompted a swift rebuke from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who issued a statement confirming her “full and absolute support” for Mr Turnbull. See the media coverage here.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has signalled she is confident that Labor will collect the 47 seats needed to secure a majority government following the State Election in Queensland last weekend. The ABC election computer predicts Labor will secure 47 seats, while the LNP is expected to win 38, with one seat going to One Nation and two to Katter’s Australian Party. A number of seats are still in doubt. The Greens are in contention for the new seat of Maiwar, with counting to continue into next week. Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls has declared the LNP is “still in this hunt”, while criticising Labor for prematurely “trying to divvy up the spoils” by jostling for cabinet positions before the election outcome is known. See the media coverage here.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari has been ordered by party leader Bill Shorten to vacate his position as Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate and chair of a Senate Select Committee over comments made to foreign media sources and allegations he warned a Chinese political donor that his phone was likely tapped by government agencies. A recording shows the senator speaking to the Chinese media in a manner contradicting Labor’s official policy position on the South China Sea. Mr Shorten reported that he has “lost faith” in the senator due to “very poor judgement”. Senator Dastyari said he was shocked by the recording, which did not match his “recollection of events”. See the media coverage here.

Voters will go to the polls tomorrow for the New England by-election triggered by the resignation of Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, due to dual citizenship. Competing with 16 other candidates for the seat, Mr Joyce reflected this week that the by-election campaign has given him a “fresh outlook” and provided an opportunity to get back to “grassroots politics”. Mr Joyce is expected to comfortably win tomorrow’s by-election, despite some analysts predicting a swing against him. See the media coverage here.

The Federal, WA, and Tasmanian parliaments will sit next week.


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