Via Australia’s last journalist standing, Adele Ferguson:
Farcical, damp squib, paper tiger, stillborn. They are just a few of the words being used to describe the long awaited and much needed royal commission into financial services.
For me the royal commission is shaping up as disappointing – even before it has begun. A ridiculously tight budget, a short timeline, extremely broad terms of reference and an exclusion from looking at anything that might “prejudice, compromise or duplicate” another inquiry or court proceedings threaten to strangle it.
…A deadline of a year for the final report and six months to release a draft is unfair, particularly against the backdrop of other royal commissions including the one into trade unions, which took 18 months and the royal commission into child sexual abuse, which took five years.
A once-over-lightly inquiry will make it difficult to get to the heart of the issues and restore confidence.
From the get-go the royal commission, led by former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne, hasn’t done itself any favours by issuing a statement discouraging anyone who has signed a gag order – customer or employee – from filing a submission relating to misconduct or poor behaviour. Given this is the standard of the industry, it stops a lot of good evidence coming through.
The reality is customers who have been dudded and whistleblowers who have exposed wrongdoing are the best placed to help the commission identify patterns and themes. All the commission needed to do was ask financial institutions to waive confidentiality agreements and it would have avoided a public backlash.
It took Senator John Williams to see the problem and ask the banks to waive confidentiality agreements. Now the rest of the sector needs to follow suit.
If they don’t, Senator Williams warned, he would set up a Senate inquiry to receive evidence under parliamentary privilege that he could then pass on to the commission.
The take out, whether right or wrong, is Senate inquiries have more clout than a royal commission. That’s bad PR.
At MB we know of multiple victims of predatory lending that have been paid off to keep quiet.