The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer may have been reluctant to say it but the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has admitted the Government should have acted sooner in calling a Royal Commission into the Banking and Financial Services industry.
Amid a blow-up over O’Dwyer’s reluctance to acknowledge the Government’s tardy approach to the Royal Commission, Turnbull acknowledged from Berlin overnight that the Government’s decision to ignore calls for a Royal Commission for up to 18 months had been a political mistake.
However, at the same time as acknowledging the Government’s problem, he pointed to the benefits which would flow from regulatory initiatives such as the Bank Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR), the creation of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) and the initiation of the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) regime.
“I understand when you’re writing the political criticism, you say the government would have had less political grief if it had set up a royal commission two years ago – you’re right, clearly, with the benefit of hindsight,” Turnbull said. “Having said that, you have to ask yourself, would we be able to get all the reforms done?”
Turnbull said he took responsibility for the Government’s approach.
“I made the call and I take responsibility for making the call to put action and reform and legislation first,” he said. “Clearly, a royal commission is an inquiry, it shines a big light on whatever the subject of its investigation is, and clearly that’s what it’s doing at the moment and there’s great force in that.”
“But equally, at the end of the day, you’ve got to change the rules, you’ve got to do something that will go forever, because no royal commission can go forever.”