A combination of the Australian Greens, the Federal Opposition, the cross-benchers in the Senate means the major banks are now within one Parliamentary vote of coming under the microscope of Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry.
The bill, introduced by the Australian Greens, will now have to go before the House of Representatives where the Government’s majority is wafer-thin and where a number of Government back-benchers have previously indicated their support for a Royal Commission.
The major sponsor of the bill, Tasmanian Green Senator, Peter Whish-Wilson said the Turnbull Government had failed to act, so the Senate had decided to act instead.
The Government’s attitude in the House of Representatives has already been signalled by the Minister for Defence Support, Christopher Pyne, who described the Greens bill as a stunt which should not be supported.
A Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry has most of the powers of a Royal Commission but represents a rare event in Australian politics.
One of the major problems which will confront the supporters of the legislation is that funding will be dependent on the Government which has steadfastly resisted attempts by the Federal Opposition to move for a Royal Commission into the banks.
One of the Government back-benchers in the House of Representatives, National Party member, George Christensen has previously indicated support for the bill but last night was quoted as suggesting the Greens bill did not go far enough because it did not encompass the insurance and superannuation industries.