After narrowly holding-off a banking Royal Commission in September, internal pressure continues to build on the Turnbull Government for a warts-and-all inquiry into Australia’s banking sector.
Last week we witnessed Coalition MP George Christensen pledging to support Bob Katter’s private members’ bill to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the banks.
And now we have former senior Coalition minister, Andrew Robb, reportedly pressing the case for a banking Royal Commission during the recent A50 investors conference in Sydney. From The AFR:
Sources have told The Australian Financial Review that Mr Robb pressed Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer on the issue during a closed question-and-answer session at the A50 investors conference in Sydney last Friday.
According to people in the room, Mr Robb said Labor was never going to give up on its push and holding a short commission with limited terms of reference would end the political damage the government was experiencing by defending the banks. He also argued it would be a good opportunity to demonstrate internationally that the banking system was in good shape.
Yet again, Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer ruled out holding a royal commission, claiming amongst other things that it would damage the banks’ reputation and put Australia’s AAA credit rating at risk:
Ms O’Dwyer remarked that Mr Robb had been a great trade minister but on this issue, he was “profoundly wrong”…
She said in the current febrile political environment “oppositions will make wild claims” and “we must govern in the national interests, not just the political interest”.
For its part, The Greens are pushing for a parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into banks, rather than a royal commission and will present draft legislation and terms of reference to cross-party MPs today.
A Commission of Inquiry is the same thing as a Royal Commission with two slight differences:
- Royal Commissions are set up by the executive Government whereas a Commission of Inquiry can be set up by the Parliament.
- Royal Commissions report to the executive Government whereas a Commission of Inquiry reports to the Parliament.
With Labor, The Greens, Bob Katter and George Christensen all likely to support a Commission of Inquiry, only one more Coalition MP will need to cross the floor to make it happen.
The Turnbull Government is struggling to hold back the tide.