Executives of Australia’s big four banks will each be questioned individually for three hours in Parliament by a cross-party group of 10 MPs from the House of Representative Standing Committee of Economics this week, ahead of a year filled with scandals and controversies within the banking industry.
Facing the Parliament today will be Commonwealth Bank chief Ian Narev, who has had to already deal with several scandals this past year, with the CommInsure Investigation sure to be a central aspect of the discussion today. The joint investigation by Fairfax Media and ABC’s Four Corners about CommInsure’s failure to payout sick and dying customers by changing medical definitions to tactically deny insurance payouts, called to question several of the procedures in place at the bank in a very public matter.
It can be argued that this push for accountability has come after all four banks failed to pass the RBA’s 0.25% interest cut in August, further shining the spotlight on the banks record breaking profits for the year, with all four pocketing multi-billion dollar profits. Profits are expected, but more pressing has also been the million-dollar pay packets the executives of these banks have been receiving among the ongoing scandals in the industry. While the banks have come out to say that they are looking at changing the incentive structure, there has been no evidence of such changes as of yet.
This government initiated annual parliamentary review has been dismissed by opposition leader Bill Shorten, accusing Prime Minister Turnbull of having an “absolute obsession” about stopping an introduction of a new Royal Commission into the banking sector. Shorten is claiming that,
“I’ve met the victims of the poor standards of the banks and financial services industry”.
And scrutinising Turnbull for protecting the banks from a full review by an independent Royal Commission stating,
“You can take Malcolm Turnbull out of the investment bank, but you can’t seem to take the investment banker out of Malcolm Turnbull.”
While Commbank will be taking the stage today, we can expect to see ANZ’s Shayne Elliot on Wednesday morning and both Andrew Thorborn from NAB and Brian Hartzer from Westpac on Thursday. Profitability, inability to pass on interest rates and pay packages are sure to be hot topics raised in Parliament this week.