Treasurer Scott Morrison has shrugged off the instances of misconduct heard by the banking royal commission, saying the government already knew about them.
Mr Morrison told a business summit in Sydney that the federal government, which had long been opposed to a royal commission, had already begun tackling misconduct through initiatives such as the banking executive accountability regime (BEAR), the push for open banking and support for rival fintechs.
‘What is happening in the royal commission is (issues) are all being raised at the same time and obviously I think that will more directly impact on the public consciousness of these things,’ Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.
‘But these were not things that the government was not aware of and that is why we were already taking this strong action.’
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in November bowed to internal pressure to spend $75 million on a royal commission into the banks – a move which had been called for by Labor, the Greens, crossbenchers and Liberal and Nationals backbenchers.
The decision was sparked by allegations from the government’s financial intelligence unit, AUSTRAC, in August that Commonwealth Bank breached terrorism funding and money laundering laws more than 53,800 times between 2011 and 2015.
Mr Morrison on Wednesday said the government had also put more resources into the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in order to push the regulator to be greater enforcers of the law.
‘Can you imagine if we waited for the royal commission to end?’ He said.
‘We weren’t waiting: we were getting on with it.’