Australia’s banks, under increasing pressure following a series of scandals, are pushing back against calls for a royal commission into their industry.
The Australian Bankers’ Association today released a poll by Galaxy Research said to show a sharp drop in public support for a royal commission, saying that banks are already taking action to build trust in the community.
The poll, of 1,000 people aged 18 years and older between October 6 and 9, shows that two-thirds don’t support a royal commission into banks when they understand what it involves.
The ALP has been calling for a royal commission but the Turnbull government has rejected it, instead holding an annual review of the big four bank CEOs under scrutiny of a House of Representatives economics committee, which has the same powers as parliament.
The chief executives were last week grilled in the parliamentary committee for failing to pass on interest rate cuts in full and on a series of scandals including giving faulty financial planning advice to customers, restricting payouts for disability insurance claims and allegations of rigging the bank bill swap rate.
In the bank-sponsored survey by Galaxy, a bit more than a third of Australians support a royal commission into the banking and financial services sector.
This is lower than a poll by Research Now published last week which was said to indicate two-thirds of voters wanted a royal commissions.
However, the banks say that figure was inflated by the fact the question asked respondents whether they “would support a royal commission, or similar independent inquiry … “.
“The open-ended nature of that question meant most respondents agreed,” says Steven Münchenberg, CEO of the Australian Bankers’ Association.
“In fact, the latest poll shows that a quarter, or 25%, are actively opposed to a royal commission and people who neither support nor oppose a royal commission constitute the majority of those polled, at around 40% of the sample.
“People don’t believe a royal commission is the right way to go when they understand that it can’t impose fines on banks or force banks to pay compensation, and it can’t change laws or do anything other than make recommendations which the Government of the day is not bound to implement.”
A snap poll of 1000 Australians conducted by I-Link Research in early October showed that a royal commission finished 10th out of a list of 10 issues Australians believe the government should be doing something about.
“Australia’s banks have heard the community wants change and we are taking action now. The industry is implementing extensive reforms to build trust and confidence in banks, including giving customers a greater voice when things go wrong,” says Münchenberg.
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