FEBRUARY 5, 2019: As a key campaigner in the hard-fought battle to establish an inquiry into banking misconduct, I welcome both the banking royal commission’s final report and the Liberal National Government’s response in accepting the recommendations.
I went into bat on the issue after hearing too many stories of farmers and small business owners being treated appallingly by their banks.
In the midst of an extended downturn from about 2014 on, the big banks started progressively putting the screws on customers through debt-recovery and foreclosures.
During boom times the banks loved us and lined up to throw money at us. When times got tougher they just abandoned people. The treatment I saw was unethical and in some cases I believed criminal.
The actions of myself and Nationals colleagues Senator Barry O’Sullivan and Llew O’Brien, were instrumental in securing the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. (See attached timeline)
I’m particularly happy to see the establishment of a compensation scheme of last resort which can award compensation going back 10 years, because there are certainly farmers and business owners I have worked with who should benefit from this measure.
There is also compensation for individuals who had a prior unpaid determination in their favour, which will see almost 300 consumers finally receive compensation totally around $30 million as a result of misconduct.
The establishment of a comprehensive scheme for farm debt mediation, the requirement that agricultural loans be managed by experienced agricultural bankers and supporting the elimination of default interest on loans secured by agricultural land in areas impacted by natural disasters are other measures I also welcome.
TIMELINE: THE FIGHT FOR A BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION
JULY 2017 – A banking forum held in Mackay and attended by representatives from all four big banks, the small business ombudsman and a range of customers and business representatives puts the spotlight on banks reining in debt and hitting businesses with foreclosure during the region’s downturn. The event was organised by Federal MP George Christensen.
SEPTEMBER 2017 – George Christensen puts on a special presentation to some Coalition MPs in Canberra to put the case for supporting a banking royal commission or inquiry.
- ABC – David Lipson – ABC – December 1, 2017: “On the afternoon of September 13, in Committee Room 1R2 at Parliament House in Canberra, a Powerpoint presentation was firing up. Renegade Nationals MP George Christensen had invited a small group of his Coalition colleagues for a special presentation on the banks. … Over the course of an hour or so, the politicians were methodically taken through a short history of banking behaviour since the Global Financial Crisis. … Perhaps enough Coalition MPs could be convinced, if it came to it, to team up with Labor and the Greens on the floor of Parliament to force a commission of inquiry into the banks. By this week, that vague possibility had become a certainty. With Mr Christensen and Mr O’Brien willing to cross the floor to support fellow Queenslander, senator Barry O’Sullivan’s bill, an inquiry was going to happen one way or another. As a result, we now have the Prime Minister’s “regrettable” royal commission.”
NOVEMBER 2017 – Further pressure is put on the banks when Mr Christensen set up an online petition stating the case on the need for a banking inquiry or royal commission. People invited to sign the petition and tell their stories.
LATE NOVEMBER 2017 – Nationals MPs George Christensen and Llew O’Brien, as well as Senator Barry O’Sullivan signal intentions to vote against the government, in support of a banking royal commission or inquiry.
- The Conversation – Michelle Grattan – April 19, 2018: * “In fact, the government was forced to drop its resistance when Nationals rebels threatened to revolt. Take a bow, Queensland Nationals backbenchers Barry O’Sullivan, George Christensen and Llew O’Brien. You did everyone a service.”
- Daily Telegraph – Sharri Markson – April 20, 2018: “They were facing a backbench revolt led by Nationals MP George Christensen over the issue at a time when the Coalition’s numbers in Parliament were down as a result of the dual citizenship crisis…. In effect, it was forced on the Turnbull government by the renegade George Christensen.”
- Ross Waraker – White Collar Crime Reform Group – May 2018: “In light of the results of the Royal Commission already, I think George’s early stance, against the political views of the day, should be applauded. Nobody can deny he played a key role in the establishment of the banking royal commission.
NOVEMBER 29 2017 – The then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces a royal commission.
DECEMBER 14 2017 – The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is established.
JANUARY – AUGUST 2108 – Submissions are received and public hearings conducted over 68 days. More than 130 witnesses called and 10,000 public submissions received.
SEPTEMBER 2018 – Release of the interim report vindicates Mr Christensen’s stance on the need for a royal commission.
FEBRUARY 2019 – Final report of the Banking Royal Commission is handed to Government, who announce they will accept 75 of the 76 recommendations.