8 April 2016
Transcript - #2016045, 2016

Doorstop interview, Melbourne

SUBJECTS: Bill Shorten playing politics on Royal Commission; ABCC

TREASURER:

What we know about Bill Shorten is he doesn’t respect royal commissions. He didn’t respect the Cole Royal Commission when he was a Minister because he abolished the Australian Building and Construction Commission which the Cole Royal Commission recommended. The Heydon Royal Commission says that the Australian Building and Construction Commission should be restored – he doesn’t respect that decision either. Just over a year ago, in June of last year, his own Senators on his authority, you would assume, voted against a royal commission into the banking and financial services industry. Yet today, on the eve of an election being called at some point, he decides that he wants to have a Royal Commission into the banking industry. What we are seeing is Bill Shorten play complete politics with one of the most fundamental institutions in our economy. Now, there is no doubt there are serious issues that have to be addressed in the banking sector and in the financial services sector. That is why we have a tough cop on the beat in that area – it is called ASIC. We have a strong regulator – it is called APRA. We have the Reserve Bank which provides a broader framework in which the banks operate in. Our banking system is well regulated. It is important that it is well regulated. It is important there is an enforcement authority. ASIC has the powers of a Royal Commission and in fact it has greater powers than a Royal Commission. What this simply is, is Bill Shorten playing politics in the lead up to an election on a very, very serious issue. It is reckless distraction from his failure to come to terms with the fact that he wants to defend corrupt and criminal practices in the construction industry. He has to face the Parliament on the 18th of this month and defend corrupt and criminal practices in the construction industry which is job destroying activity in our construction industry. Now, he wants to distract people’s attention with this with what he has put out there today. Only a year ago the Labor Party said it wasn’t necessary but today apparently it is. It is just pure politics from Bill Shorten.

QUESTION:

So, can you guarantee that the Coalition wouldn’t hold a Royal Commission into the finance sector?

TREASURER:

The Government is not proposing a Royal Commission. The Government a year ago voted against the same motion that the Labor Party voted against a year ago. I mean this is the Labor Party that also said it was in favour of Senate reform and then voted against Senate reform when the politics suited them. The Labor Party is being driven by opportunistic politics and this is a reckless distraction by Bill Shorten. The issues in the banking sector are real and the Prime Minister made it very clear that he expects the banks and other institutions to honour that social trust that they build up with their customers and with the Australian people. It is critical to the workings of our banking and financial system and that is what we will keep our focus on. That is what the regulators will keep their focus on. They will continue to do their job. But you know in the building and construction industry there is no such cop on the beat – there is no such cop on the beat. A Royal Commission has recommended twice that there should be an Australian Building and Construction Commission and Bill Shorten, who says he believes in Royal Commissions, won’t listen to those two – so why would he listen to any others?

QUESTION:

Just clarifying Treasurer, you don’t think it’s a good idea? It’s not something that you can rule out [inaudible]…

TREASURER:

The Government is not proposing a Royal Commission and we have opposed one consistently…

QUESTION:

You mentioned that Bill Shorten was playing politics… does this mean you… but yet you yourself earlier today mentioned that Bill Shorten wears an ill-fitted suit [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Your question doesn’t make any sense so you might want to re-phrase it and have another go. No? Fair enough.

QUESTION:

Just on ASIC, you were mentioning before, a $120 million cut in four years in 2014. Will that be reversed?

TREASURER:

Look ASIC and APRA and all of our regulators are well supported to do the job they’re doing. I mean ASIC is out there bringing forward charges and perusing investigations into these very serious issues. The reason that we are having this discussion is because ASIC has been doing their job. So, we will address whatever issues are raised with us by ASIC, or APRA, or any of our agencies that are involved in ensuring the integrity of our banking and financial system. That has always been our commitment. I mean it was coalition governments who put in place the architecture of our financial system. It was this Government over the last two and a half years that put in place the Murray Review and we are now acting on the recommendations of that review into our banking and financial system to ensure that our system is even stronger. I note that it is Mr Murray who is the one who has said that he does not believe, someone who has looked through every inch of our system, he doesn’t support the idea of what Mr Shorten has put forward and he would know better than anyone else about what was needed in our banking and financial system. He put a report to the government about what needed to be done in that system and we are acting on that report. So, when it comes to the integrity of our banking and financial system I back David Murray over Bill Shorten any day of the week.

Thanks very much.