Bank Grilling Pushed Back As Royal Commission Takes Centre Stage

The government will grill the chief executives of Australia’s major banks on the interim findings from Kenneth Hayne’s royal commission into the financial services sector in October.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics today said it would call senior executives from Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and National Australia Bank to face questioning by MPs in October later this year.

The committee, which has passed its chairmanship from Liberal MP David Coleman to his party room colleague Sarah Henderson, was established in late 2016 after the four major banks declined to pass on the Reserve Bank’s most recent official rate cut in full. The parliament’s review of the major banks aimed to hold public hearings once every six months, and did so in November 2016 and April and December last year.

However, with the royal commission into banking and financial services due to hold its next public hearings on March 13-23, with a flagged focuson “credit products such as home loans, car loans and credit cards”, the House of Representatives standing committee has pushed its next hearings out till mid-October.

“The hearings will be conducted shortly after the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry hands down its interim report which is due by 30 September 2018,” Ms Henderson said. “This will provide the committee with an important opportunity to scrutinise the banks on a range of matters including the interim findings of the Royal Commissioner.”

Mr Coleman is now assisting Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in Malcolm Turnbull’s revamped ministry.

Treasurer Scott Morrison adopted the vast majority of Mr Coleman’s recommendations from the parliamentary review, including tougher penalties and responsibilities for senior executives, a focus on open data in the financial system and the removal of barriers to bank competition, and a watchdog review of the mortgage pricing market.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has since established a permanent standing force to investigate systemic competition issues in banking. The government has also put in place a one-stop shop for consumer complaints, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority and a regulated Banking Executive Accountability Regime.

By Michael Roddan

The Australian Business Review

21 February 2018

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