A Greens bill to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the banks has passed the Senate but faces a tougher task of getting through the House of Representatives, despite being just one vote short.
The Bill to establish the inquiry, which is like a royal commission except it is established by the Parliament, not the government, passed the Senate late Thursday morning.
It confirms the appetite among Labor, the Greens and independents to keep going after the banks has not been sated by the anti-bank measures in the May budget.
These include a Productivity Commission inquiry and the $6.2 billion bank tax, the legislation for which will pass the Senate next week so the tax can begin as scheduled on July 1.
On Friday, the Australian Bankers’ Association, the big four plus Macquarie Group will have one last chance to voice their concerns when they appear before a half-day Senate inquiry in to the tax.
The Greens bill has been in the planning for months. For it to be debated in the Lower House, it must be approved by a government-dominated committee which selects non-government bills for debate.
Labor is planing some stunt later Thursday to try and circumvent this. Even if successful, the Greens will need two Coalition defectors.
‘A Damocles sword’
Perennial Nationals rogue George Christensen has indicated his support for the bill and the Greens have been working on other Nationals and disgruntled Liberals to secure the other vote.
Should the House of Representatives pass legislation to establish the commission of inquiry, it would double as a vote of no confidence in the government and could trigger an election.
The last time the government lost a vote on legislation in the House of Representatives was in 1929. This doubled as a no confidence vote and forced prime minister Stanley Bruce to call an election, which he lost.
The Greens believe that if they secure the final Coalition MP, the threat of a no-confidence vote will force Malcolm Turnbull to act.
“This inquiry hangs like a Damocles sword over Malcolm Turnbull and the banks. Either Malcolm Turnbull sets up his own royal commission or he runs the risk that Parliament does it without him.”
There has only ever been one other Parliamentary Commission Inquiry established. It was set up to look into allegations against Lionel Murphy in the 1980s.
The Greens’ inquiry would examine executive pay, “vertically integrated” business models and penalties for misconduct.
The inquiry was supported in the Senate by Labor, One Nation, Derryn Hinch, Jacqui Lambie, the Nick Xenophon Team and Nationals Senator John Williams.
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