Senator's royal commission call
National Party Senator John 'Wacka' Williams wants a royal commission to investigate white collar crime, but defends the government's approach to financial planning laws.PT0M0S 620 349
The Abbott government did not wait for a damning report into allegations of widespread misconduct among financial planners at the Commonwealth Bank to be tabled before pushing through regulations winding back protections for consumers of advice.
Regulations striking out reforms to financial advice that were introduced by the previous Labor government were signed by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove on Thursday. That afternoon, a multi-party Senate committee recommended a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank over a long-running scandal within its financial planning arm involving allegations of fraud, forgery and a cover-up by management.
Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has since hosed down talk of a royal commission, despite his senior minister, Treasurer Joe Hockey, on the weekend describing the bank's behaviour as appalling and saying it needed to ''lift its game''.
Mr Hockey's mother-in-law was a victim of a CBA planner who was later banned for five years.
On Monday, Senator Cormann registered the regulations, which annul parts of Labor's Future of Financial Advice law that would have forbidden banks to reward their financial planners and tellers for steering customers into the institution's own products.
The advisers would also have been forced to tell their former clients how much they are continuing to pay in ongoing fees and commissions.
Senator Cormann said FoFA ''went too far'' and ''a lot has changed'' since the Commonwealth Bank scandal.
The regulations were registered on the last possible day before the FoFA rules came into effect on Tuesday. However, they may yet be disallowed by resolution of the Senate, which is not sitting this week but resumes on Monday.
Labor and the Greens say they will move a motion to knock down the regulations, leaving their fate in the hands of cross-bench senators, including those associated with Clive Palmer's Palmer United Party.
Mr Palmer could not be reached but last week he said his party would ''get rid'' of the government's amendments to FoFA.
''The men and women of Australia - the pensioners and working classes - should be allowed to rely on the advice they're given,'' he told Fairfax Media.