Let’s Talk: Is it time for a royal commission into the banks?

With all the talk about the Census, the news about the banks reporting profits might have escaped your attention overnight.

With all the talk about the Census, the news about the banks reporting profits might have escaped your attention overnight.

It certainly hasn’t escaped the attention of Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who is set to ramp up his campaign for a royal commission, demanding the ‘greedy’ banks should be investigated for putting profits and executive rewards before its customers.

Specifically, Shorten has attacked the banks for not cutting mortgage lending rates to new record lows.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia for example has just recorded an annual profit of nearly $9.5 billion, so you have to wonder why its customers weren’t afforded the full 25 basis point cut that the Reserve Bank presented.

However, according to the Australian Financial Review there simply isn’t the money available to lower rates, compensate despositors and deliver big dividends to shareholders.

“The banks may be big an bureaucratic institutions, but they are still vulnerable to international shocks and downturns,” the Australian Financial Review writes.

“Most Australians are already despositors, mortgage holders and of course shareholders in the big banks — either directly or through their super. For a sizeable part of the population, all three. Something has to give,” it says.

According to Shorten, that something is a royal commission because “when they choose to pocket some of the reduction in the official interest rate instead of getting the economy going” they are undermining their case.

“There’s a culture in banking which puts the profits of banks, big profits, billions of dollars of profits ahead of the national interest and interests of mum-and-dad mortgagees, small businesses and people with large credit card rate interest debts,” he tells the Australian Financial Review.

“I think the first step to reforming banking is a royal commission,” Shorten says.

What do you think? Do banks in Australia need to come under close inspection to ensure they are acting in your best interests? Are you happy with the service you get from your banking institution?

  1. Why not talk about the Oil Companies who are just as large and affect our pockets just as much but blatantly rip from the public on a monthly weekly basis as the prices go up & down. Or have the pollies tried that but been told to bigger off. Banks are companies who have owners. The owners need a return. The depositors need a return to lend to the borrowers. Why is that so hard to follow?

    • Mareela  

      Hi Ian,
      Guess you’ve got money invested in the banks earning 2-3%. That’s a great return I don’t think. The banks need to be far more transparent and accountable. In every other country in the world the banks profits are around 1.2% of GDP. In Australia, the profit margin for the big banks is around 2.9% of GDP. Greedy and outrageous to say the least, especially when CEO’s are paid $3-5 million to fleece customers. Bring on a Royal Commission!

      • Just as a thought — If the Banks by virtue of how they operate in producing profits, and rewarding those that contribute most to their culture and operations were really representing the National interests by what they produce.

        Question being why is the National and personal Debt in Australia now far greater than at the Time of the Global Financial Crises 2008, perhaps a Royal Commission might shed some light on this issue and pinpoint who is responsible .

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