May 2, 2018

The Liberal Party’s deep, rich connections with the banks and financial planning

The links between the Liberal Party, the big banks and the financial planning sector seem to go beyond the ordinary relationships between business and politicians.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The Liberal Party's long history of looking after the banks and financial planners springs from deep links between the party and both financial planners and banks.

Malcolm Turnbull is a former banker, although that's just one of several careers he's had. Kelly O'Dwyer, who has carriage of the financial services portfolio, is a former National Australia Bank executive; she has retained links to NAB via the bank's sponsorship of Liberal fundraising events. Her ministerial predecessor Josh Frydenberg was working for Deutsche Bank when he won preselection for Kooyong. His portfolio predecessor was Arthur Sinodinos, who is another former NAB executive; Sinodinos commenced the Abbott government's attempt to repeal the Future of Financial Advice reforms. Victorian senator Jane Hume is another NAB alumna, who also had stints at Rothschild and Deutsche Bank -- although she also worked at industry super fund AustralianSuper. Gold Coast MP Bert van Manen and former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi had both been financial planners before entering parliament.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

15 thoughts on “The Liberal Party’s deep, rich connections with the banks and financial planning

  1. RL

    god this is getting more and more infuriating.
    What is Ken Henry doing staying involved with these disgraces.

  2. AR

    The table from the AEC showing the donations to the torys confirms what we know – the party’s definition of honesty is staying bought.
    The largess to Labor may not have been as generous but does anyone imagine the effect not the same on the meretricious mediocrities who infest politics these days?
    “Labor, not quite as venal as the torys” – yeah, that really provides reassurance and encourage the voter.

  3. Ruv Draba

    Bernard, this is a good start: you’ve established intimate access through industry contacts and funding — which isn’t just true for the banking sector, but can certainly distort government thinking. However, you’ve pitched more than that, and so has Helen. You’ve both argued that we should expect to see deliberate, willful concealment of systematic, sector-wide fraud — which to me smacks of corruption. So I think you need to close the circle, and show:

    1. Who among existing or past coalition cabinet, stand to benefit from abusing power to grant inappropriate favours to the banking sector, and how;
    2. Which cabinet-members or backbenchers in the Coalition were aware of it and opposed it, and how any objections were suppressed; or else how maladministration so ‘widely known’ was nevertheless never challenged, even by backbenchers with marginal seats;
    3. Whether any similar approaches were also made to Labour as the banking royal commission discussions heated up, and if not, why not;
    4. Why, despite your allegations, the major banks ended up agreeing to a Royal Commission; and
    5. Who in the past or present government is presently afraid of Royal Commission findings about political corruption, and how the terms of reference may have been manipulated to prevent them.

    Or if you don’t feel the evidence will ever support a coherent answer to these questions, you might prefer to offer a more modest alternative, such as negligence, inexperience, poorly-managed conflicts and ideological zeal (which explain a great deal of government mismanagement.)

    In the latter case, I’d suggest that a constructive proposal wouldn’t centre on demands for some empty Party apology or personal apologies (nobody will offer such self-humiliation unless they must, and it’s only ever symbolic anyway), but could include insistence of greater distance between politicians and the financial sector in future, along with more pro-active, diligent and effective regulation across the entire financial sector.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      Ruv, all good questions. I think I can answer number 4 though. They ‘agreed’ to it because they realised they had no option, and it was better to rip the band-aid off, albeit slowly, while Turnbull could write the terms of reference. There is nothing but self-preservation in their minds, and this was the least worst option.

      1. Ruv Draba

        I think you may be right about that, DB, but my question was more along the lines of: if the banks think they own the government, why accede to public pressure? A more plausible explanation is that the banks know they don’t own the parties in government, and that democratic processes sometimes trump bought influence.

    2. covenanter

      Rav, have you heard of The Gordian Knot?
      Reportedly cut in half by Alexander The Great, when told that he had to unravel it in order to become ruler of the state of Gordia, during his conquests.
      A more decisive, cutting style to your commentary might better suit your anticipated readers, than the convoluted, Gordian Knot style arguments that you seem to prefer that should unravel?
      I find your style tedious, so might others?
      Just trying to help make your efforts more accessible than they are at present.
      I am assuming of course that you might actually care that more read and understand your efforts.

      1. Ruv Draba

        Covenanter, I’m beyond sorry that you found it tedious to read and reply to a comment addressed to someone else.

        While I cannot go back and edit it to lighten your burden, I can only suggest that you talk to whatever sadistic boss is making you perform this face-aching task at eight past ten on a Wednesday night, and ask for more meaningful and productive work.

        1. covenanter

          So there you go gov, the very sort of style I was looking for, you can do it!

          1. Ruv Draba

            Have you seen a lot of troll comments here?
            Me either.
            Something to bear in mind.

  4. Chris Gulland

    A part from sensational headlines and a huge bill for taxpayers, remind me what benefit has the Royal Commision into unions provided?
    There where several correspondents who said yesterday they predicted the Banking Investigation would amount to very little when we look back in in the five 5 years time.

  5. klewso

    An industry ripping us off for funds to buy the re-election of a government whose main interest is anything but ours.
    A wunch of bankers?

  6. michael dwyer

    Bank staff have been anti-Labor since Chifley tried to nationalise the banks in the late 1940s. The referendum was defeated, and Bob Menzies became PM a year or so later. Whitlam proposed setting up Australian Government Insurance Corporation in 1074 or 1975. Naturally the insurers backed the campaign against AGIC. The most enthusiastic campaigners were the commission salesmen. They are the ancestors of financial planners. Certainly these people may have sold inappropriate policies. It was not unknown for signatures to be forged and false statements to be made by the client at the behest of the salesman. It would have to be a serious set of circumstances for dismissal to be considered if the salesman was a prolific writer of business.

  7. Dog's Breakfast

    “Kelly O’Dwyer, ………, is a former National Australia Bank executive”

    Seriously? I see no particular capacities in Ms O’Dwyer whatsoever. Really, she made it to executive level in one of our biggest banks? Perhaps this explains in part the absolute corporate stupidity being exposed, they are major employers and promoters of people of little talent.

    1. covenanter

      Yes, it seems to be some sort of blind faith in the “system” rather than talent or intellect which sorts these executives out from the rest.
      What was the name of that NAB CEO who went to Britain and lost the bank a fortune?
      Promoted to the top after entering the “faith” as a sixteen year old teller, though can’t say what further “education” he attained to smooth his way to the top.
      Any sort of “parallel evolution” connection with that other figure, now defending child abuse charges, who rose to oversee a certain religious sect’s banking organisation?
      J K Galbraith commented on the “priesthood’ aspects of this crew after viewing them as his fellow students at “Harvard”?, ( he had previously attained a degree in agricultural science and worked advising farmers in their financial plans), coining the term “received wisdom” to describe the mystical pronouncements routinely delivered up to the unquestioning and uninformed masses.

  8. Kay Matthiesson

    With regard to the “profession” of Financial Services, this is a TAFE qualification. It is worth looking at the syllabus and the entry requirements for students.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details