Labor is looking to find an edge in the polls ahead of upcoming elections this year by posing itself on the side of the customer, as the Hayne report reveals a series of choices to make for those in power. As the government prepares its response to the findings unearthed by the Royal Commission, they have several aspects to bear in mind.
As well as securing the confidence of the voters, they also need to keep the markets moving well, or the banks could suffer a slowdown and their best-laid intentions to reform the banks could prove fruitless. However, the Scott Morrison administration has already indicated it is less likely to choose more radical avenues, which leaves the door open for Bill Shorten and the opposition.
With the aim of scrapping “grandfathered” fees paid to advisers, meaning any fees paid for existing rules while new ones are brought in would no longer be valid, Labor are trying to steal a march on the Liberals.
The election race is now becoming clearer as both sides seem likely to set out their stall on who is most likely to be able to reform the banks, but also keep everything in working order. Given that most of this has happened under the watch of a Liberal government, there is an argument to both sides that they could have done more to prevent it, and that they have kept the banks from going into freefall.
One of the biggest clashes between political sides at present is that Labor want to bring in new changes faster, while the Liberals are concerned that implementing too much now could put them in a difficult situation at the polls if the changes begin to affect people’s savings and livelihoods.
Labor are now demanding grandfathered fees be scrapped a full year before the Liberal Party say they would do anything about it, but Shorten is likely to come under plenty of fire from the business sectors which could be affected by any changes.
Although many analysts have dismissed the relevance of the claim, many mortgage brokers have railed against Labor’s intentions to get rid of commission fees as it could send up the rates of home interest loans. For each change any party considers from the Hayne report, there are sure to be those in the sector who will warn against it.
Shares in major banks have reacted well to the developments so far, as there is a growing sentiment that the Hayne report did not go so far as to suggest anything too radical which would affect the bottom line. This means none of the banks will be obligated to sell off their wealth management arms, while there are not expected to be any new lending rules in place.
The lines between the two major parties widened after Shorten used a window to call for parliament to find time to debate new consumer protection laws, and also lambasted Morrison for voting against the setup of the Royal Commission on several occasions, saying this meant he was against the side of the people.
Labor have shown their intent to adopt as many of the Hayne recommendations as possible, while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has been quick to call for caution and the need to not rush into everything without considering the permutations. Which way the voters prefer later this year will probably decide which path Australia goes down.