Royal Commission Round Table

Federation Chamber, 15 October 2018


Mr KEOGH (Burt) (10:48): Last week I hosted the first of Labor's banking royal commission round tables in Western Australia to give victims of banking misconduct a voice. I heard from farmers who were taken advantage of by their banks. I heard from small business owners and people who went to borrow money from their banks, trusting the advice they received, only to end up in financial ruin. I heard from victims of domestic violence whose former partners took financial advantage of them which resulted in devastating emotional and financial trauma—trauma that was facilitated by our banks. Those banks continue to do nothing to help.

The Prime Minister personally voted against a royal commission more than 20 times, while the Liberal government held off a royal commission for more than 600 days. When they finally did see the light, they gave the commissioner only a year to undertake the mammoth task this inquiry has become. That one year has meant that only 27 real-world examples were presented at royal commission hearings, leaving more than 9,000 stories untold. The royal commission didn't even make it to Perth. That's why Labor have taken matters into our own hands.

We, in Labor, are holding these forums, because we want to hear from real-world people affected by banking misconduct. We want to hear the stories of how banking rip-offs have ruined people's lives. We believe it's only through hearing these stories that we can make appropriate policy decisions to make sure we hold the banks and their executives to account in the future so we can make sure misconduct like this can never happen again.

It is important to hear the stories of these victims so that we can put them directly to the banks' CEOs. We had the first opportunity to do that at the end of last week when the CEOs from the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and the ANZ sat before the House Standing Committee on Economics and one by one were forced to admit and apologise for their catastrophic failures; forced to admit that it takes a royal commission to tell them charging fees to dead people shouldn't happen; forced to admit staff were tampering with Dollarmite accounts of children; forced to admit fairly compensating customers for the banks' wrongs is not merely a distraction; and forced to admit their systemic failures, some from 15 years ago with customers still awaiting compensation. Hearing the stories of these banking victims was important because we believe they deserve a seat at the table in working on cleaning up the sector. They know better than anyone the changes that need to be made to ensure people won't suffer the way that they have ever again.

I will continue to fight for victims to have their say, and I will do everything I can to protect Australian businesses and consumers from this appalling misconduct by our banks. The eventual recommendations of the banking and financial services royal commission can only be truly understood and properly implemented by a government and a party that see them through the eyes of the victims, and that's what I and the Labor Party will do.