By Joe Montero
Yesterday (30 November 2017), Malcolm Turnbull announced a Royal Commission into the banks – well sort of.
This is an inquiry you have when you don’t want to have one.
There is no intention to properly take on the issues that have been raised by the behaviour of the banks. This is a major con job, primarily designed to fool the public. It is also a means to try to pull back into line the rebellion brewing within the Coalition.
The biggest problem that Turnbull and his team face is that no one is fooled and this will make it hard to get away with it.
Only by Australia saying that the game has been uncovered and will hold the Turnbull to account, will this farce be stopped.
It has come about, because pressure has been mounting, including from within the ranks of the government Coalition, especially the National Party. Enough Coalition MPs were prepared to cross the floor and join the Greens and Labor to push through their own inquiry and the only way to prevent it was by moving first.
The Prime Minister was forced to go to Plan B. It is the reason for the sudden turnaround from two days earlier, when he had publicly let it be known that there would be no inquiry whatsoever.
Turnbull has come out with his inquiry light. The banks can still be protected this way. Scrutiny over their affairs can be minimised and attention turned elsewhere.
Investigation into the banks will be minimised by shifting to an inquiry into financial services in general. Providing plenty of wiggle room to steer away from matters that hit too close to the bone.
The means to turn attention elsewhere was let out of the bag by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Only a couple of hours after Turnbull’s announcement, he said that there is now a “good opportunity,” to examine the superannuation funds.
The government has already given its support to the bank’s call to change the industry funds, from cooperative bodies overseen by a board of major stakeholders, into private businesses that the banks have direct access to.
No one could seriously believe that the pretend inquiry will fail to come up with the recommendation to do what the government had already intended on this score.
Nor that there will be a finding that somehow what is wrong with the boards of the industry funds is that there is union representation on them. By this means, the inquiry can be morphed into an inquiry into the unions, at once, setting up a major diversion and a chance to mount the government’s favourate hobby horse and push its policy to de-unionise Australia.
Dutton said to Ray Hadley on 2GB, “I think people lose a lot of their super through fees and through donations and all sorts of support for unions. So, I think it’s a good opportunity in that sense to have a look at the detail and people can put all of that information forward and we can see the recommendations from the commission.” Isn’t this a reminder of the recent stunt pulled against the Australian Workers Union?
It has not gone down so well with others.
Australia needs a proper investigation into the banks that will uncover what is wrong and lead to real change. Until this happens the banks will continue to be on the public nose and the call for action will persist.