The pursuit by the financial services royal commission of poor behaviour by banks in farm finance is taking longer than expected.
The commission sitting in Brisbane has heard this week of cases where a fourth generation farming family was left by the ANZ Bank without a place to live and the means to earn a living, and of a man recovering from a heart attack told to get out of his house within 24 hours.
Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne, a former High Court judge, says the case studies selected for investigation are taking longer than anticipated.
“We’ve continued to receive information about the case studies in relation to farm financing, both in the form of supplementary statements and further production under notices to produce,” he told the hearing.
“That’s why, as a consequence, some of those studies are going to take longer than we had first anticipated. It’s important that they’re done and they’re done properly.”
The commission has decided to go ahead with the farm case studies and push back natural disaster insurance case studies that had been due to be heard later this week.
The natural disaster insurance case studies will now be dealt with in the sixth block of hearings, in Melbourne in September.
“I recognise that the change will cause inconvenience, considerable inconvenience to the consumers, to the experts, to the entities that we had told that their natural disaster-related case studies would be heard this week or next,” he says.
“So I’m sorry for that inconvenience. It’s certainly not something we’ve done deliberately.”
Rowena Orr, senior counsel assisting the commission, says most of the farming case studies will be finished but may spill over into next week.
“And the bulk of next week will be filled with the cases relating to the third topic that we were dealing with in these modules, relating to interactions between financial services entities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she says.