MORE PAIN FOR COMMBANK EXECUTIVES

Commonwealth Bank chair Catherine Livingstone has announced the first in what’s expected to be a series of punitive measures for senior members of the CBA board in response to the recent money laundering scandal that has engulfed the bank, announcing that CEO Ian Narev and 11 others (including herself) would receive no short-term bonuses for 2017. However, according to Livingstone, “Mr Narev retains the full confidence of the board”.

The question now becomes whether this action will satisfy the public and the bank’s shareholders (who yesterday called for someone to be forced to “walk the plank”). According to analysis by The Australian, even with the cuts, CBA execs are likely to earn more that their equivalents at the other major banks. The Australian Financial Review notes that the salaries for Narev and his executive group were $22.4 million in 2016, while total remuneration including bonuses was an eye-watering $44.7 million. Awkwardly, today is also the day CBA is expected to report nearly $10 billion in profits for the last year.

The cuts have been welcomed as a “good first step” by investors, with some still calling for there to be sackings over the saga.  The bank seems to be aware that this cannot be the end of the matter, with “bank insiders” telling The Australian the move is “only the first strike” and “this (bonus measure) is only what the board can do right now”.

Treasurer Scott Morrison, who met with Livingstone yesterday, told question time “all options” were still being considered in response to the “very, very serious matter”.

And amid all this is the revelations in today’s Fin that more than half of the money laundering syndicates identified in AUSTRAC’s statement of claim used more than one bank. However, don’t expect the spreading of the scandal to make a royal commission into banks any more likely in the near future. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told question time a royal commission would only delay the work currently being done by AUSTRAC.

LIVE AND LET GUY

More damaging revelations for embattled Victorian Opposition Lleader Matthew Guy, with a joint Farifax-ABC investigation revealing secret tapes of Liberal Party official Barrie Macmillan apparently conspiring with alleged Mafia associates to funnel funds to the Liberal Party, split into smaller amounts to avoid disclosing the source of the funds to authorities. 

“You can’t associate Matthew with money and I would have to be the intermediary. But I’m talking about a swag of money …” Macmillan says on the recording. The call emerges after the headline writer’s dream revelations that Guy dined with alleged mobster Tony  Madafferi and three of his relatives, all of whom are previous Liberal donors, at the Lobster Cave in Beaumaris earlier this year.

Guy, who has previously stated he did not know Madafferi would be present, has denied any impropriety — “I never sought any political donation. I did not go to this meeting seeking political donations. I did not. I did not meet with these people on the premise that that’s what it would be about.” Victorian LIberal party president Michael Kroger insists there is no story, apart from “Labor’s disgusting and dirty war against the Coalition”.

But just to be safe, Guy has referred himself (and Fairfax, for good measure) to IBAC, Victoria’s anti corruption commission.

WAR OF WORDS

Donald Trump has warned North Korea that it “will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before” if it continues to threaten the US. Trump’s words came after The Washington Post reported US intelligence officials now believed North Korea had a nuclear warhead that could be placed inside missiles — a crucial milestone for developing an inter-continental nuclear threat.

Earlier this week, North Korean officials and state media channels hit out at the US after the UN Security Council unanimously passed new sanctions targeting its missile program.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

John Ibrahim’s mansion raided, brothers and sons arrested after international police operation

Child flu cases show alarming rise amid incorrect vaccination advice from GPs

Border force doctor knew of Manus asylum seeker’s deteriorating health before death

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt will launch a report into indigenous policy, services and evaluation on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Canberra: The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security will hold a public hearing with the Law Council of Australia for its review of ASIO’s questioning and detention powers.

Botoga: Accused drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury is due back in a Bogota court, where a judge will consider her plea deal.

Sydney: Commonwealth Bank will release its full-year results to the ASX.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Postal path to same-sex marriage before Christmas — Paul Kelly (The Australian $): “A prudent response from Labor and the LGBTI community if the postal vote proceeds would be to participate fully, campaign and have the law passed before Christmas.”

A $122m election without politicians, an utter failure of politics — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “The only positive thing you can say about the developments of recent weeks is that the Coalition has been forced to put the issue of same-sex marriage back on the agenda instead of leaving it to languish until after the next federal election.”

This point scoring and deal making with refugee’s lives is absurd — Behrouz Boochani (The Age): “In the four years we have been imprisoned in Manus Island we have experienced three prime ministers of Australia. But our usefulness as a political football has never changed.”

Why did Matthew Guy dine with bad guy? — John Ferguson (The Australian $): “It seems remarkable that proper checks weren’t made before Guy attended, given the notorious fragility of the Liberal Party in Melbourne’s southeast. For decades, it has been at the centre of relentless brawling, largely among people with business agendas that outweigh their political interests.”

THE WORLD

South African President Jacob Zuma has survived a parliamentary vote of no confidence, winning by 198 to 177. The news is not all good for the president, however, with 35 MPs from his own party voting for the motion or abstaining. — BBC

Kenya’s presidential election has taken place without major violence, easing fears of a repeat of the massive ethnic clashes that left hundreds dead 10 years ago. Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his opponent Raila Odinga hail from influential political families with ties to a major ethnic group. Full results won’t be known today, but Kenyatta appears to have the lead at this point. — Reuters

WHAT WE’RE READING

How a pro-Trump Twitter scheme fell apart after a retweet from the president (BuzzFeed): “The Mincey character was used as a “marketing tool,” she said, explaining that the group chose to use aspects of her identity, “because I’m black, so it’s easier to market black people [as Trump supporters].””

As Kenya’s vote nears, fear that ‘fake news’ may fuel real bloodshed (New York Times): “Fake news. Odd plot twists. Tit-for-tat accusations. One candidate calling another ‘crooked.’ In a country with a history of election violence, the addition of such toxic behavior has further fanned fears about whether the country can pull off a credible and peaceful vote.”

Angela Merkel is hurting German democracy (Foreign Policy): “Central to Merkel’s method is the way she boxes out the Social Democrats from the campaign’s center stage by absorbing their ideas and occupying their space. Merkel has sidelined the SPD this way time again over the years, on dozens of issues ranging from the minimum wage to nuclear power. This strands the SPD in no-man’s land, unable to debate the chancellor on CDU policy, which differs only in degree or detail from their own.”

Questions for me about dying (The New Yorker): “No, I haven’t become religious; that is, I haven’t experienced a late conversion to a particular faith. If that means I’m going straight to hell when I die, then so be it.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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