National Australia Bank chairmain Phil Chronican (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

NABBING A BANK

NAB potentially faces up to $8 billion in fines, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleging the bank engaged in unconscionable conduct in its long-running fees-for-no-service scandal. ASIC believes NAB breached the law 12,347 times, with penalties for each contravention ranging from $250,000 to $2.1 million.

ASIC alleges the bank continued to charge ongoing service fees to its customers (knowing it had not delivered any services), failed to deliver financial planning reviews or offers of reviews to clients, failed to establish and maintain compliance measures and had issued inadequate fee disclosure statements between May 2018 and February 2019.

All of which should make today’s AGM difficult for NAB chief executive Ross McEwan and chairman Phil Chronican.

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MORE RATE CUTS TO COME?

The minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s December meeting — where interest rates were kept at a record low 0.75% —  have been released, showing the central bank is prepared to cut interest rates again early next year.

The Nine papers report the minutes show the RBA is prepared to loosen monetary policy again in 2020 as it becomes increasingly concerned that stagnant wages growth and “super-sized mortgages” are stymieing household spending.

Meanwhile, Reserve Bank board member Ian Harper told The Australian that if RBA had rushed to cut interest rates further, it could have risked overstimulating the economy. The RBA cut interest rates three times in 2019.

MORE TAKATA RECALLS

Up to 78,000 cars — with makes including Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Toyota, sold between 1996 and 2000 — will be recalled in a further escalation of the Takata airbag crisis.

The vehicles are fitted with a particular Takata that has the NADI 5-AT inflator, which could incorrectly deploy in an accident, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warns. These Takata airbags were not part of the existing recall.

Inq has been talking to whistleblowers at the ACCC, and investigating what the agency knew, and when, about the crisis.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Mr Edman blamed his electoral officer. If she wanted to highlight the matter, he would have regard of it, but otherwise he left it to her.

WACCC interim report

Former WA Liberal MP Phil Edman had an interesting excuse after the State’s watchdog alleged he had blatantly misused his electoral allowance on lap dances, dates from a “sugar daddy” website and more. Look WA, Crikey did tell you to keep an eye on that.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

The 2019 Crikey Business Awards

“While [AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou]’s legacy at the AFL continues to diminish following the financial disaster at the Gold Coast, Demetriou was questioned by the Victorian Supreme Court for his performance as chair of the advisory board of Acquire Learning. Demetriou’s three-day-a-week role paid $900,000 per year in cash and $1.6 million a year in shares, but the former dentures salesman apparently claimed to play no role whatsoever in the company’s collapse. When Acquire was on the brink of insolvency, Demetriou then had the chutzpah to demand a $150,000 bonus.”


Is this the end of UK Labour as we know it?

“On the numbers alone, the idea that Labour is out for a generation, or even in 2024, is not a given. Perversely, one can add that Labour’s campaign was so bad, so unfocused, so divided, that getting 33% is a testament to the relative strength of the brand. A lot of the northern losses are very small Tory majorities, made possible by the Brexit Party shaving off a thousand here and there. One round of layoffs at the grittling factory in Little Scunging, and the new Tory north’ll get wise.”


Johannes Leak follows in the footsteps of his father, but can only go so far

“No especial mystery shrouds the process by which erstwhile radicals become reactionary as they age into riches and success. The cartoons of [Bill] Leak’s late phase make more sense if considered not as the output of a damaged brain but as a shift common to many in his generation, with his drawings about Safe Schools, Indigenous people and political correctness gone mad all begging for the addition of the caption, ‘OK boomer’.  As a rule, apostates don’t walk away from their old beliefs. Rather, they excoriate them obsessively, seeking to settle accounts with their younger selves.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Too hot for humans? First Nations people fear becoming Australia’s first climate refugees

McCormack defied Senate order over regional grants scheme despite initial advice

Fifth Google worker-activist fired in a month says company is targeting the vulnerable

Trump-district Democrats carry impeachment to the finish line

Major car dealership underpaid employees $4.5m

SA Health bracing for increased hospital admissions and presentations as severe heatwave grips state ($)

Lawyer X inquiry: Simon Overland says Victorian police ‘may have perverted course of justice’ ($)

Former WA MP’s taxpayer-funded trips with girls met on matchmaking sites detailed by CCC

Two-term limits proposed to curb local government corruption

Furniture retailer Zanui rescued by buyers as chief blames Black Friday for collapse

PwC still paying head of government’s audit quality advisory body ($)

Pope Francis abolishes ‘pontifical secret’ in clergy sex abuse cases

THE COMMENTARIAT

Tories, Coalition and Trump have better feel for public mood ($) — Paul Kelly (The Australian): “The parties of the right have triumphed in better reading the public mood and recasting their policies, even their identity to win. The parties of the left have blown their brains out by squandering the public anger towards ­financial elites, compressed living standards and the alienation of working people who feel frustrated or betrayed — an ideal framing for left election victories. The left misread the times. Its world-historic failures have created the current opening for radical conservatives. Hillary Clinton and Bill Shorten expected to win; many of [Jeremy] Corbyn’s backers believed he might pull off victory.”

It would take only a stroke of a keyboard to send us back to the dark agesJohn Birmingham (The Age): “Once upon a time, nations used to negotiate these deals to limit the threat of atomic weapons, or nerve agents, or poison gas. The use of such weapons was considered so dangerous, so heinous, that even implacable enemies were motivated to restrain themselves. The problem with digital weapons is that you don’t need to build factories, or launch sites or whole industries, to support them. A laptop will do.”

Lawyer X inquiry: Tough questions for Simon Overland to answer ($) — John Ferguson (The Australian): “Simon Overland is notoriously blunt. After several hours of being verbally frisked by Chris Winneke QC, Victoria Police’s former top banana sat upright in the witness box and conceded the obvious about the hiring of a gangland barrister to rat on her clients.  ‘Certainly I agree the ethics were f … ed,’ Overland said at 1.04pm on Tuesday. The key point, though, is that Overland’s cussing really wasn’t his own take on the bungled decision to hire Nicola Gobbo.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Hawkesbury

  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott will visit the Rural Fire Services in fire-ravaged Hawkesbury.

Melbourne

  • The first case management hearing in Australian chain Taco Bill’s “passing off” legal action against Taco Bell.

  • Filing hearing for Alliance CG and Clark Cranes, both charged under Victorian workplace safety laws over the death of a 48-year-old man killed when a bucket of concrete fell from a crane in September 2018.

  • RSPCA Victoria chief executive Liz Walker and senior inspector Steve Cook will reveal annual animal cruelty statistics.

Hobart

  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese will talk about roads, transport and issues of the day.

Perth

  • Mark McGowan‘s government will deliver WA’s mid-year budget review.

Sydney

  • NAB to face shareholders at its AGM.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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