Further revelations about misconduct within the Commonwealth Bank again demonstrate the need for a royal commission into the financial sector’s treatment of consumers.

It’s been less than two years since we learnt of the vast scale of malpractice within the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning arm. Now we have learnt of serious misconduct by the bank’s insurance arm, Comminsure, and its refusal to pay out legitimate life insurance claims.

This is becoming almost ritualistic. Journalist Adele Ferguson, supported by Fairfax and the ABC, reveals scandalous wrongdoing by employees of a major bank. The corporate Keystone Cop, ASIC, either belatedly promises to investigate or we learn ASIC has known all about it and done nothing for years. The bank makes a pro forma apology and promises to write to the affected customers. No executives are held responsible for what is plainly a rotten corporate culture. All will be well from hereon, the bank assures us.

Until the next scandal.

These financial abuses harm thousands of people and cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet a government that saw fit to launch a trade union witch-hunt has consistently refused to conduct a royal commission into a business scandal many times the magnitude of any misbehaviour by the CFMEU.

Of course, that would have nothing to with the more than $5.2 million in political donations that the big banks and major financial institutions have given to the major parties since 2010, including $3.13 million to the Coalition. Nor with the more than $190,000 the Commonwealth Bank has donated to the Coalition in that time.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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