Simple way to keep banks honest

Simple way to keep banks honest

One of Australia’s most respected regulators today warned banks might quickly forget the torrent of criticism they received from the Hayne royal commission.

Former chief monitor of business competition Graeme Samuel suggested a simple, one-line code of conduct financial services businesses could sign to jog their memory of the findings of the inquiry headed by Kenneth Hayne.

“I think corporate Australia has shown, has demonstrated over decades that I’ve been in professional life that they have a very short memory,” Mr Samuel told ABC radio.

“And so they have a wake-up call (from major boom and bust cycles) and it’s all the same stuff.”

He said that often he watched business dramas and thought: “Good heavens, it’s the same old stuff all over again.”

In the wake of the royal commission, the government has asked Mr Samuel to review the effectiveness of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority which oversees banking and other financial services.

APRA and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission have been criticised for not disciplining businesses.

Mr Samuel today suggested a one-line code of conduct for the financial services industry.

It might read: “We now undertake to ASIC and APRA that we will implement all the recommendations of the Hayne report and that we will henceforth from today conduct our affairs in accordance with those recommendations.”

He said: “Now all the banks and financial institutions could sign that code of conduct today.”

“There’s no reason why they can’t undertake to ASIC and APRA that sort of code of conduct – simple, no legal drafting – and get on and do it,” he said.

Mr Samuel said the $19 billion boost in bank shares this week came because the stock market had “oversold or over-estimated what Hayne was going to do”.

He said the royal commission final report was “absolute common sense”.

Labor is preparing to use parliament to embarrass the Coalition over its reluctance to call a full inquiry, and to pressure it to immediately implement all 76 recommendations from Mr Hayne.

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh today reaffirmed Labor would demand the Government ensure there was enough time for parliament to consider the Hayne report before the election expected mid-May.

“What’s extraordinary is the government has the parliament sitting for only 10 days the first half of this year,” Mr Leigh said on Tuesday.

“And given the seismic nature of this royal commission’s findings, I think it’s absolutely incumbent upon the government to ensure that parliament sits for as long as it needs to implement the recommendations.”

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