Subjects: Roof Climb, Banking Royal Commission.
HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.
PYNE: Good morning gentleman.
ALBANESE: Good morning and can I say as the Tourism Shadow Minister I think RoofClimb’s sensational.
HOST: Good on you Albo. We love it.
ALBANESE: I’m backing it in. I’m backing in Adelaide from Perth.
PYNE: I don’t want to do it, but I think it’s great.
HOST: You and Albo can do it together, Chris.
PYNE: Have you done it Albo?
ALBANESE: I’ve done it. It is terrific.
PYNE: Well when we do it together you can come without a brace. But I’ll look after you, I promise.
ALBANESE: As long as your hands are handcuffed.
HOST: Chris, we’ll start with you. How does the Government kill off the very strong perception that you guys were dragged kicking and screaming to this Royal Commission?
PYNE: Well it’s old news to start with. I mean, what the public are interested in is not political commentary from inside the bubble here in Canberra, it’s what we’re actually doing and what we’re doing is responding to every one of these 76 recommendations and toughening up our treatment of the banks, directors, superannuation, protecting consumers, giving more powers to regulators and courts and there is legislation in the Senate right now to protect consumers in superannuation that Labor won’t support because they’re conflicted by their union-controlled industry super funds. Now we’re getting on with it. Now whether we took a long time to come to a Royal Commission or not, it doesn’t really matter. We set up the Royal Commission. We’re responding to the recommendations and we’ve had five years of toughening up the financial services sector. When Bill Shorten was the Minister for Financial Services, which he was by the way, he did nothing about any of these things that happened.
HOST: Albo, there’s a point of difference between you guys and the Government and I think it’s on the 75th recommendation in the report as it pertains to how to brokers are paid fees – mortgage brokers are paid fees. Previously by the banks, it will be in future by the people like David and I and everyone listening and you guys who want to get a loan; you pay the broker direct. We’ve been contacted by so many brokers this morning saying that if that happens, there’s 20,000 of them, they’re all going to be out of work. Is it still your intention to adopt that recommendation wholeheartedly, or has some of the concern and blow back from brokers given you pause?
ALBANESE: Well what we’ve said is that we’ll adopt in principle the recommendations. Obviously we’ll look at the detail. We want to make sure there are good outcomes from a Royal Commission after all, that we put forward 26 times and the Government voted against 26 times. I do sometimes think that Christopher occasionally takes your breath away with his capacity to argue black is white. I mean they opposed all of this. The Parliament isn’t sitting so they won’t actually be able to do anything before Parliament gets up because we’ve only been sitting for 10 days. We want to actually get recommendations put into legislative form and put it through the Parliament prior to the election and that’s why we’ve said Parliament should sit more.
PYNE: Well Labor should vote for the legislation that’s in the Senate this week coming up and we’d be able to reform superannuation next week. But you’re not going to do it.
ALBANESE: I’ll give the very big tip Christopher – that legislation passed the House of Representatives some eight months ago and you haven’t even brought it on for debate in the Senate in those eight months.
PYNE: Because Labor won’t support it. They’ve announced they won’t support it.
ALBANESE: You’ve got to actually have a debate and a vote. What we’ve said is…
PYNE: So you’re saying you will support it?
ALBANESE: What we’ve said is we will improve the legislation because at the moment it’s weak. That’s the way it works in a democracy. What you have is legislation, you have debate in the Senate, the House of review, you have amendments put – they’re carried or not, but determined by the Senate, and then it goes back to the House of Reps.
HOST: Setting that aside, I think the number one question that our listeners want answered, and we’ve seen the banks’ share values soaring yesterday, they’re almost giggling into their Stella Artois down in Martin Place going, “Well that wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be”. How is the Government, and a Government of any hue, going to make sure that this crap doesn’t happen again?
PYNE: Well I heard Graeme Samuel this morning on another network which I won’t name, who made a very good point. Graeme Samuel used to be the head of the ACCC and we’ve appointed him to do a review of the powers of APRA, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, to make sure that it has the powers it needs, and the capability it needs primarily to actually enforce the law. He said the market had completely over-reacted to what they thought the Royal Commission was going to recommend and so there’d been a flight out of the banks on the stock market and therefore yesterday’s reaction was a counter-swing back to one of relief that sure, the recommendations are tough and the Government is adopting them and getting on with the job, we’re taking action on all 76, but we’re not going to force a credit squeeze. We’re not going to ruin the economy. This is the problem with Labor. Labor doesn’t know how to run an economy. If Labor gets in there will be a credit squeeze.
HOST: But Chris, that’s the market analysis and it’s the political analysis, but the real time where the rubber hits the road analysis that I think people want are – is the NAB going to get away with making $100 million out of fee-for-no-service and are they going to continue with this culture of bonuses driven not by the standard of service they provide but purely by how many mortgages they can sell? How are you going to make sure that the regulator isn’t such a soft touch, and how are you going to make that happen right now, not years from now?
PYNE: Kenneth Hayne has recommended criminal charges against certain individuals so that will go through the proper processes and we will adopt the actions that need to be done to make sure that justice is not only seen to be done but actually achieved. We are toughening up the powers of the regulators. We think that some of the regulators have been underwhelming and ASIC was singled out by the Royal Commission. We’ll toughen up their capabilities to make sure that this can never happen again. We didn’t bring about, of course, this bank scandal, but we are the ones who are fixing it. That’s what the public want to see. We’re getting on with it. We’re going to give people the chance to seek compensation going back ten years, which was the period of the Royal Commission, under the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, which we established by the way. So we certainly haven’t been sitting on our hands. We’ve been responding to the criticisms of the banks but we also have to remember that the banks are an important foundation of our economic security in this country. They’re four of the ten largest banks in the world – of the most profitable banks in the world, four of them are our Big Four, and we need to make sure that we don’t cause a crisis in banking, which Labor would do if there was a credit squeeze.
ALBANESE: That is absolute nonsense. Christopher speaks about not delaying. The fact is that they delayed the Royal Commission. It should have been called years ago. We went to the 2016 election with a policy of having a Royal Commission into the banks. Christopher says that the Big Four are amongst the ten most profitable banks in the world, he’s right. But some of that is at the expense of ordinary consumers being ripped off by behaviour that’s unethical, immoral, and in some cases, according to Commissioner Hayne, illegal. Now if he is serious at all let’s end the delay, let’s have Parliament sit. We’re sitting for the next two weeks, we can just keep going until this legislation gets done, arising out of the Royal Commission (inaudible). Christopher’s the Leader of the House, he can schedule it.
HOST: It’s a debate that’s going to continue right through to election day. Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thanks for joining us.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.