Why is Wayne Byers still in the building?

Time to go, mate. Via the SMH:

A rare public intervention from banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne could be aimed at ensuring his recommendations are not watered down by financial sector lobbying, former watchdog Allan Fels says.

…In a move that adds to pressure on APRA, on Monday commissioner Hayne made his first public comments since his report was handed down to government six months ago, backing the [APRA] capability review.

“What appears in the APRA Capability Review is, I think, entirely consistent with what I wrote in my final report,” Commissioner Hayne, a former High Court judge, told the Australian Financial Review.

…“Any post-report pronouncement by Hayne will carry considerable weight,” said Professor Fels, a former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“It’s very unusual for a royal commissioner, especially a former High Court judge, to speak after a report, but probably he is concerned about weak implementation of his report due to enormous pressure from the financial institutions, an enormously powerful lobby.”

Or, put another way, Hayne is concerned that a weak regulator led by a proven failure who is resistant to reform even after the endless parade of horrors in the RC will succumb to the lobbying.

Wayne Byers must resign. He is an embarrassment to APRA. He is an embarrassment to the Treasurer. He is a risk to the country via the return of the mass mortgage fraud that he waved through in the last cycle.

Staff have no faith in Byers, previously at the AFR:

Working conditions in a division of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority that was advising the banks on culture became so toxic that most of the team have quit in frustration over the last 18 months.

Many of those who threw in the towel have gone on to open thriving consultancies, including ASIC’s boardroom shrink of choice Elizabeth Arzadon, who resigned from APRA in May 2018 only to be scooped up by the corporate cop months later.

Former members of APRA’s governance, culture and remuneration team who spoke to The Australian Financial Review said they were regularly undermined by senior executives who did not believe in their mission.

The Parliament is calling for his head, with Centre Alliance patriots leading the charge:

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has called for the resignations of APRA chair Wayne Byres and his deputies after a review into the organisation found its leadership wanting.

The review of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), done for the government and led by former ACCC chief Graeme Samuel, found that “leadership, people and culture” were issues and that it “should address variation in leadership capability for all management levels”.

“If you look at the findings of the banking royal commission and this review you see that APRA has been asleep at the wheel. Leadership and culture have been identified as a problem and they are set at the very top,” Senator Patrick said.

“You can’t earn $886,000 [as Mr Byres does] and not be fully responsible for leadership, transparency and contestability,” Senator Patrick told The New Daily.

“It’s not proper for him to stay in that role. Ultimately, the buck must stop with someone.”

Even the corrupt business press has had enough, previously via Chanticleer:

This tight control of the dissemination of information and the strategic decision to avoid the nightly news sits oddly with the firm advice in the capability review for APRA to engage more deeply with the community.

But it was Byres’ response to the media questions which left Chanticleer in doubt about his willingness to fix all the weaknesses in the management and strategic priorities at APRA identified by the capability review.

The review panel chaired by Graeme Samuel and including Diane Smith-Gander and Grant Spencer must surely be disappointed with Byres’ response. But they have chosen to let the report stand for itself and will not be commenting publicly .

At The Australian Byers is now an object of exasperated ridicule:

In most lines of work, if you do a poor job you don’t get a pay rise­. You might even be laid off. Not in financial regulation La La Land, where poor performance comes with a five-year ­contract and a $17,000-a-year pay increase.

You might have thought a royal commission, a series of damning inquiries into the quality of the financial sector (it’s difficult to keep track) and now a highly critical capability review would have been enough for a round of applications late last year for the position of chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Instead, Wayne Byres, in the job since 2014, was appointed in November for a further five years and, thanks to the Remuneration Tribunal, scored a pay bump to $886,770 a few weeks ago.

Not bad in the lead-up to a 146-page capability review that found APRA slow, opaque, inefficient, and in urgent need of a culture and leadership overhaul.

However technically competent and experienced Byres might be, it was a mistake to reappoint him last year. He would have found other important work.

And a fresh chairman from outside the financial regulation establishment could have set the regulator, one of the nation’s most important, on a new path. Byres is hardly going to be a ­critical reforming force of an ­organisation he’s been at since 1998.

Too right. Take the hint, Wayno. You can contribute to the reform of APRA, by illustrating a new culture of accountability.

Resign.

Comments

  1. He’s on $800K+ p.a., with a guaranteed pay rise of circa 50K p.a IIRC. Why’s he still in the building? Because that sort of money buys a LOT of lack of shame?

    Hell, if it were me you wouldn’t be able to drag me out of that chair with a team of horses.

    • I suspect he’s not feeling any shame at all. He’s an experienced and competent leader and he’s wondering what all the fuss is about as he leans back in his large office and admires the sun shining off his silk suit.

  2. Jumping jack flash

    He performed a valuable service for the banks, earning them billions in profits, and for the economy with meteoric growth, therefore a valuable service for Australia and all its debt-steeped people.
    Record consecutive quarters of debt-bubble growth without a recession. A fine achievement!

    World-renowned prosperity, the envy of the globe. The Australian Quoll! (We don’t have tigers here, at least not real ones)
    The fact that he’s being scapegoated now is pretty droll. So predictable. So Australian.
    Nobody was complaining when everyone was getting instantly rich from someone else’s debt, were they.

    Have the banks clamored for his head yet?
    Wait until the srhtf for them, I guess.

  3. He aint going know where…he’s ready to do the govt dirty job of making criminal lending legal again…

  4. TailorTrashMEMBER

    $800K + as a public servant……to serve the public …..
    ….pay it and suck it up ……this is straya ..2019 ….. 100 years since the Anzacs were demobbed after their
    public service …….looks like inflation has many faces ……