It seems as though it will be difficult to please everyone when it comes to reforming the Australian banking sector. In the wake of the Royal Commission inquiry into financial misconduct, very few people thought that the result would simply be that regulators with slightly sharper teeth would emerge, but this has been a key occurrence.
The Commission’s report, which is due in the next few weeks, should introduce a range of measures that vary from legislative control to suggestions for banks to reform their cultures internally.
However, not every decision in line with this movement has had a good reception, and attempts to reform other areas have failed to get backing. Aims from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to deliver a new watchdog known as the Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) to help stamp out corruption in the public sector have already faced criticism from a series of retired judges, who have dismissed the idea for not being robust enough.
The National Integrity Commission (NIC), which these former judges comprise, asserted that Morrison’s proposal likely ‘falls disastrously short’ of what is necessary to help implement widespread change.
There has been plenty of appetite for the delivery of such a program. The number of complaints in the political sphere as well as public sentiment suggests that there is scope to bring something like this to the table.
The CIC is likely to be a standalone agency that will carry out the statutes of Australian and Commonwealth law to help ensure that as little corruption as possible can take place. However, the NIC has been quick to criticize what it perceives as a lack of ‘an effective body to counter and expose corruption at a federal level.’ This response should prove a blow to Morrison, who hopes to be the leader who will be able to take on some of the more problematic areas of Australian governance.
With elections looming large and the next few months heating up in terms of debate, the quieter last few months have given Morrison time to make accomplishments and hold them up as a reason for re-election. The NIC’s sentiments will not do him any favors, however.
One NIC member, Stephen Charles, said that the proposal of the CIC is reflective of a ‘sham commission.’ The NIC as a whole went further by adding that it believes that this is a deliberate move to protect the governing ability of politicians.
The organization said in a statement that the CIC ‘is deliberately designed to make corruption in this area more difficult to detect and intended to protect politicians and other public officers.’ Charles added that the proposed agency is ‘not really an anti-corruption commission at all.’
Such opinions mirror similar feelings when the Royal Commission inquiry found that regulatory bodies had plenty of opportunities to stamp out bad banking behavior but often seemed more content to let it ride and hope that it worked itself out. Now that the issue of the CIC’s implementation has made its way into the public domain, it could well turn out to be another unwelcome headache for Morrison to deal with.