Treasurer Josh Frydenberg divestment competition policy
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (Image: AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

In the perpetual present of political reportage in Australia, where no one seems to recall what happened five minutes ago, entire issues play out in perfect repetition. In the Rudd and Gillard years, when the major banks declined to pass on interest rate cuts in full -- or lifted rates faster than the RBA raised them -- treasurer Wayne Swan would savage the banks and urge consumers to "shop around", shadow treasurer Joe Hockey would savage him for being "treated with contempt" by the banks, an inquiry or two would be held and the government would unveil reforms to facilitate competition.

Nearly a decade later, when banks don't pass on interest rate cuts, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg savages the banks and urges consumers to "shop around", while shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers (previously Swan's chief of staff) says the banks are "thumbing their noses". Today we got the next step: another inquiry, by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), into residential mortgage pricing. That will include "investigating barriers that may prevent consumers from switching lenders". Maybe Frydenberg thinks Swan didn't go far enough on that front... although the critics thought he'd gone too far back then.