Liberal Party banking royal commission
(Image: Flickr/Beata Kontos)

The government is having a difficult time saying sorry for its failure to call a banking royal commission, given the extraordinary revelations of the last 12 months. So Crikey is willing to help them draft a proper apology that would get the party on the right side of consumers at last.

We apologise for failing to call a financial services royal commission until late 2017 — to the victims of banks, to all Australians, and also to our National Party partners, who for once were on the side of the angels in knowing just what bastards the banks were. In particular, we apologise to John Williams, who for many years did the Lord’s work in going after the big banks from the Senate and called for a judicial inquiry long before it was popular.

We apologise for running a protection racket for the big banks for years, accepting millions of dollars in donations from them and in turn trying to defend them from anything that might harm their interests.

We particularly apologise for opposing, and then trying to gut, the Future of Financial Advice reforms, and you’ll notice we are now promising to do some of the things we bitterly opposed back when Julia Gillard was prime minister. And we apologise for letting former bank executives run the primary portfolios to do with financial services regulation once we got into power.

We apologise for defending retail super funds and vilifying industry super funds for years, at the behest of our big bank donors. We acknowledge now that retail super funds systematically and significantly underperform all other types of funds (Kelly O’Dwyer is now happy to go on television and admit this), and in many cases are actually a rort in which members are ripped off through fees charged for services never provided.

We apologise for colluding with our friends at the Business Council, The Australian and the Financial Review to portray industry super funds as union-run nests of corruption, when in fact they’re a great example of industrial cooperation between employers and workers’ representatives that have delivered strong returns for nearly all of the sector’s membership. 

We apologise for slashing hundreds of millions of dollars, and hundreds of staff, from ASIC in the 2014 budget at the exact moment John Williams was helping expose how bad ASIC already was. We also apologise for later insisting ASIC had the powers of a standing royal commission, and was a “tough cop on the beat” when in fact it was more like a collaborator with the banks in their wrongdoing.

And finally, we apologise for trying to hand the banks a huge tax windfall by pushing for a tax cut worth tens of billions of dollars to them. It’s now clear that the banks were stealing hundreds of millions from their customers left and right. We were wrong, and from now on we’ll put the interests of ordinary consumers — who pay far more to us through the public election funding process than the banks ever have — first instead.

 

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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