The CEOs of Australia’s four major banks are back before parliament in Canberra in little more than fours weeks.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics will conduct further public hearings with the banks in March as part of its review of the performance of the banking and financial system.
“These hearings provide an important mechanism to hold the banking sector to account before the Parliament,” says Liberal MP David Coleman, the chair of the committee.
The banks have been widely criticised for not passing on the full benefit of interest rate cuts. So far there’s been no real answer other than that the cost of getting funds to lend to people is rising.
That was the issue which prompted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to have the CEOs appear before the parliamentary committee.
“There is no commercial basis for them (not to pass one the rate) other than for them to improve their profitability,” Turnbull then said. “They had every cause to pass on the full extent of that rate cut.”
The banks have also been hit by a series of scandals including faulty financial planning advice to customers, restricting payouts for disability insurance claims and allegations of rigging the bank bill swap rate (the Commonwealth is excluded from this one).
At the first parliamentary hearings in October, the CEOs admitted to the past shortcomings in their organisations, apologised and promised to do better.
They were asked also questions about corporate responsibility.
Greens MP Adam Bandt asked. “We’ve seen scandal after scandal that only come to light when whistleblowers raise it and we find out the same people are still in charge?”
So far, no senior executive at a bank has lost their job due to the current round of scandals.
NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn is first up on Friday, March 3, followed by the Commonwealth’s Ian Narev, the ANZ’s Shayne Elliott and Westpac’s Brian Hartzer the following week, March 7 and 8.