Ripped off Australians deserve to have the banking royal commission extended so more of them can tell their stories, Labor says.
Bill Shorten has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to extend the royal commission or find another way for victims to speak up.
The royal commission has to provide its final report on February 1, but just 23 customers have been given the chance to speak at public hearings.
But banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC appears unlikely to request an extension of the one-year inquiry, having set down a hearing on policy issues for November.
Mr Shorten said if the royal commission is not extended, another mechanism should be set up for victims to share their stories.
‘For many victims of financial misconduct, they had hoped that the royal commission would provide them with their first real opportunity to be heard,’ Mr Shorten wrote in his letter to Mr Morrison.
Mr Shorten said he was worried the commission has so far only managed to have hearings in Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin.
‘I am asking that you consider providing an opportunity for more victims across the country to give evidence about banking misconduct.’
Mr Morrison this week admitted he was wrong to oppose the banking royal commission, although he said he was already aware of how bad the problems were.
‘Where I failed was to properly understand the real pain people had been feeling about being treated so badly,’ he told 3AW radio.
‘Australians needed to work through the deep hurt they have had on this.’
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack says the commission has uncovered ‘disturbing’ stories, but the decision to extend hearings was in the hands of Justice Hayne.
‘It’s been very troubling to hear some of the terrible and disturbing stories,’ he told Sky News on Wednesday.
‘Certainly there are a lot of stories as well, in rural and regional Australia, which need to be told at that royal commission.’
On Tuesday, Westpac agreed to pay a $35 million fine for breaching responsible lending laws over home loans.
It is the largest civil penalty ever handed down under the act, nearly double the previous record.