Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne says the banking royal commission has unearthed ‘very disturbing’ evidence of misconduct, but defended his government’s reluctance to launch the inquiry.
Mr Pyne said the government is already taking action to pursue dodgy behaviour by the banks.
‘We have been taking the necessary action, taking tough action, and we will continue to do so because we want to stand up for consumers and small businesses,’ Mr Pyne told the Nine Network on Friday.
‘We are not interested in standing up for bad practices.’
Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer on Friday revealed significantly higher penalties for companies and individuals who break the laws.
Dodgy bankers and insurers could get a decade in jail and millions of dollars in fines, with big companies potentially fined 10 per cent of their annual turnover.
Treasurer Scott Morrison this week warned the ‘despicable behaviour’ carries jail sentences under federal law.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said work on toughening the penalties had been going on for some time, and the government was ‘getting on with the job’ of financial reform.
‘We’ve strengthened ASIC, we’ve introduced one tranche of stronger financial regulation legislation after another to protect consumers,’ Mr Turnbull told reporters in London, where he is attending CHOGM.
‘All of that work will be informed by the work of the royal commission and we’ll look forward to the completion of that inquiry.’
But Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the government had been running a protection racket for the banks and finance sector, voting against establishing the commission more than 20 times.
‘They were describing it as a stunt, as reckless, as something that wouldn’t achieve anything, as just populous nonsense,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘What we see now is vindication of Labor’s strong stance.’
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce says banks misled the government to avoid a royal commission, admitting he was wrong to oppose the inquiry.
Mr Joyce also believes the banking royal commission has produced enough damning evidence for the Turnbull government to act before the final findings are handed down.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia has been under the spotlight, with the commission hearing one of its units had been extracting fees from dead people, in one case, for more than a decade.
The revelation comes after the inquiry heard earlier this week that wealth manager AMP had charged clients for advice they never received and repeatedly lied to the corporate watchdog.
Mr Joyce said institutions had breached the faith of the Australian people.
‘It wasn’t a case of a couple (of) rogue employees or a couple of rogue agents,’ Mr Joyce said.
‘What seems to be coming to light is that there is a culture of ‘well if we can get away with it, we can get away it’.
‘That takes it to a completely different level.’