A report into Australia’s banking and finance regulator APRA has called for a more “assertive” approach to regulating banks, insurance companies and super funds, finding a “culture of conformity” and “behind the scenes” dealings.
The review, commissioned by Josh Frydenberg after the banking royal commission found the watchdog’s approach opaque, makes 24 recommendations, with 19 directed at APRA and five directed at the government. Among them: changes to its organisational structure, a review of penalties available to it, and greater powers to prevent inappropriate directors and senior executives from being appointed or reappointed. Significantly, the review recommends cultural change, arguing that the organisation has developed “a culture that is unwilling to challenge itself.”
The Queensland government plans to prosecute Adani over “misleading information” the mining giant allegedly provided in a 2017/18 annual report. The charge relates to information Adani provided to the Department of Environment about land clearing at the Carmichael mine site last year, with the potential fine running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Queensland will not prosecute over allegations relating directly to the clearing of land or the sinking of dewatering bores at the mine site.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack, meanwhile, has defended Adani’s demand for the names of CSIRO scientists reviewing its plan, suggesting it needed to make sure the review was not being hijacked by anti-coal activists, The Guardian reports.
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SECTION 44: THE RETURN
A legal bid is underway to take Josh Frydenberg to the High Court over his rumoured Hungarian dual citizenship, 10 News First reports, with a Melbourne lawyer claiming the treasurer has been treated as a “special case”.
Lawyer Trevor Poulton has reportedly been briefing Kooyong constituents on how to mount a challenge before an August 7 deadline. Poulton’s research suggests that Frydenberg’s mother, who was born in Hungary but was declared stateless after her parents fled the Holocaust, passed on her Hungarian citizenship to her son. According to 10 News First, critics have alleged that Poulton, a long-time Labor member, is a Holocaust denier “obsessed” with bringing down Frydenberg, a charge he denies.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[The Commonwealth] is not an ATM for the states.
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CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
“Given Australian educational outcomes are in decline, it begs the question: what are teachers being asked to do, and why? Teaching, of course, but also — and increasingly — admin. In NSW, close to 100% of teachers report an increase in administrative requirements and the ‘collection, analysis and reporting of data’ over the last five years, and it’s a similar problem across the country. This might seem like a trivial complaint, but even Adrian Piccoli, former NSW minister for education and now Director of the Gonski Institute for Education, considers administrative burden the ‘number one problem’ for teachers — ‘they rightly complain that it distracts them from the main game of teaching,’ he tells INQ.”
“Class has just begun, but Katie’s day started long before these kids piled into the classroom. She’s not just their teacher; she is their counsellor, social worker, first aid officer and medical liaison. All these roles are additional to the core business of teaching the curriculum. Already today, she’s been briefed on how to manage one student’s dietary needs (his medication is affecting his appetite) and another’s asthma diagnosis (the girl’s father came in to show Katie how to help her use the inhaler). Her seemingly innocuous small talk with the children about their weekends as they arrived was actually intelligence-gathering for the school well-being officer, who is checking in on one particular family.”
“Whether it’s our refusal to address climate change, housing affordability, the degradation of our higher education system and the imposition of student debt or the franking credit rort, our political system prioritises the economic interests of older generations, like my own and Baby Boomers, and punishes young people. PHI is a direct transfer of wealth from young, healthy people who rarely claim benefits, to older people who are heavy users of the health system. And while PHI is voluntary (though people in their 30s face punitive premiums if they don’t join a health fund by the time they are 30), young taxpayers who sensibly choose not be a victim of the rort still have to contribute to it via their taxes.”
Blowtorch on APRA reveals culture needs to change – Adele Ferguson (The Age/SMH): “Not surprisingly, the government led by Treasurer Frydenberg and APRA have both accepted each of the recommendations, holus bolus. In the circumstances they had little option. The royal commission and the scandals that led to it revealed the country’s financial system might be stable but its participants have spent decades ripping off customers on an industrial scale to the tune of billions of dollars while the regulators sat in silence.”
Australia’s Orwellian anti-refugee system hints at what’s to come for climate refugees – Jeff Sparrow (The Guardian): “Indeed, a 2016 report by Unicef Australia and Save the Children put the total cost of boat turnbacks, offshore and onshore detention between 2013 and 2016 at a staggering $9.6bn. That’s the budget allocated to repel asylum seekers – even though, as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Australia is obliged to protect displaced people from refoulement. You can draw your own conclusions as to the likely treatment of those to whom Australia has no legal obligations at all.”
PM’s dilemma: keep the faith or the faithful ($) – Janet Albrechtsen (The Australian): “Morrison’s promised reform won’t change the culture because it cannot provide legal protection for the next Porteous; the government has said its federal religious anti-discrimination law will not encroach on state laws. That is a very fine federalist position. But it means religious beliefs will not be properly protected for so long as state anti-discrimination laws curb those same freedoms. This points to a fundamental flaw in Morrison’s promise. An easy promise did not match reality.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
- Today marks the fifth anniversary of the downing of MH17 over Ukraine, with the loss of all 298 people on board including 38 Australians.
- The ABS will release details of a pilot study that captures information on psychological factors in deaths referred to a coroner in 2017.
- The RAAF will host an Indigenous youth leadership development day, with young men from the communities of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara and Yalata/Maralinga gaining insight into the Australian Defence Force and testing their skills at the RAAF Base Edinburgh.
A Federal court hearing between the Australian Brumby Alliance and Parks Victoria will continue, with the pro-feral horse organisation challenging parks’ attempt to remove feral horses from sensitive parts of the Alpine National Park.
- The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System will hold a public hearing focusing on how the system engages and responds to the needs of the LGBTIQ and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
- Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar along with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation will announce a $40 million loan to Bridge Housing to support social and affordable housing across Sydney, and a $45.7 million construction loan to BlueCHP for social and affordable housing in Liverpool and Lane Cove.
- NSW ICAC’s inquiry into allegations concerning the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council will resume, with witness Richard Green Nicholas Petroulias due to give evidence.
- Catholic priest Joseph Walsh will appear in the Magistrates Court, charged with six counts of stealing up to $250,000 from a Subiaco church.