Government Announces Banking Royal Commission Following Request From Big Four

The federal government has announced a royal commission into the banks and the financial sector, reversing its previous opposition to such a move.

The announcement came at a press conference at 9.00am this morning, following a Cabinet meeting. The decision was preceded by a request from the major banks for a royal commission. In a letter to the government, the chairmen and chief executives of CBA, NAB, ANZ and Westpac said:

“In light of the latest wave of speculation about a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the banking and finance sector, we believe it is now imperative for the Australian Government to act decisively to deliver certainty to Australian’s financial services sector, our customers and the community.”

Recent days have seen increasing calls for a royal commission, especially from elements in the National Party. The House of Representatives resumes sitting next week. With two members down and facing by-elections, the government risked embarrassment in the chamber.

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The Letter from the Banks

17-11-30_banks-royal-commission-letter


Senate Passes Resolution Calling For Royal Commission Into Banking Industry

The Senate today passed a motion calling for the establishment of a royal commission to inquire into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry.

The motion was moved by the ALP leader in the Senate, Penny Wong. After five minutes of discussion, it was passed on the voices.

The motion was similar to one rejected the day before by the House of Representatives.

The motion requested the concurrence of the House. When it was presented to the House later in the day, the government was outmanoeuvred by the Opposition in a series of votes. The absence of Coalition MPs meant that the government lost control of the House for nearly two hours. [Read more…]


Government Widens Terms Of Reference For Trade Union Royal Commission; Criminal Conduct Probe, Reporting Date Extended

The federal government has widened the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into trade unions and given the inquiry an extra year to report.

The inquiry will now have the ability to investigate criminal conduct by unions. The December 2014 reporting date has been extended to December 2015.

The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, announced the changes at a press conference today. [Read more…]


Julia Gillard Testifies At Trade Union Royal Commission

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has testified at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

Gillard

Gillard was questioned by Jeremy Stoljar SC, Counsel assisting the Royal Commission. She then took questions from Bob Galbally, the barrister acting for Ralph Blewitt. [Read more…]


Royal Commission Says Home Insulation Program Was Poorly Planned And Poorly Implemented

The report of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program (HIP) says the scheme was poorly planned and poorly implemented.

The report by Ian Hanger, released today, says the causes of the problems were “multifactorial” and “it is not possible to isolate one error or failure”.

HIP

The report concludes that there were “seven significant failings in the design and implementation of HIP”. These included:

  • Conflict or tension between the two aims of the program to insulate 2.2 million homes and to stimulate the economy.
  • The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts was ill-equipped to deal with the size and complexity of the HIP.
  • A failure by the Australian Government, until very late in the HIP, to identify and manage the risk to installers of injury and death.
  • Permitting a produce to be used under the HIP that was manifestly unsuitable and dangerous.
  • A decision to relax training and competency requirements for insulation training.
  • A robust audit and compliance regime was not operational until after the first fatality.
  • The Australian Government’s reliance on the States, Territories and employers to regulate, monitor, police and enforce occupational health and safety arrangements.

The report says the Home Insulation Program not only had an effect on the families of the young men killed: “It also wreaked havoc on pre-existing insulation installation businesses, particularly when the HIP was suspended on 19 February 2010, essentially without warning.” [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd Appears At Home Insulation Royal Commission: Argument Over Cabinet Secrecy

The former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has appeared at the Royal Commission into his government’s home insulation scheme.

Rudd took the stand just after 5pm. The Commission adjourned at about 6.15pm without any substantive testimony from Rudd.

Instead, the Royal Commissioner, Ian Hanger QC, and lawyers debated whether Cabinet confidentiality applied to Rudd’s testimony. A heavily redacted version of a 31-page statement by Rudd was tendered to the hearing. Cabinet documents relevant to the inquiry have been released by the Cabinet Office with limits on their use. In the normal course of events, Cabinet documents remain secret for at least 20 years. [Read more…]


Abbott Government Establishes Royal Commission Into Union Corruption

The Abbott government has established a Royal Commission into union governance and corruption.

The announcement, anticipated over recent weeks, was made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis at a press conference in Canberra.

Abbott

The Royal Commission will be headed by former High Court Justice John Dyson Heydon. [Read more…]