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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.

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The Liberal senator, whose dissenting report the federal government is relying on to hose down calls for a royal commission on Commonwealth Bank, did not turn up to a crucial hearing at which victims of the bank's financial planning scandal gave evidence.

Official Hansard transcripts show David Bushby, who was deputy chairman of the inquiry committee, did not attend on April 10 this year, when it also heard from bank whistleblower Jeff Morris, CBA executives and Australian Securities and Investments Commission officials.

Senator David Bushby

Controversy: David Bushby's report has come in for criticism from CBA victims. Photo: Andrew Meares

Senator Bushby, regarded in Canberra as a friend of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, also headed a smaller Senate inquiry that gave the thumbs-up to the government's roll-back of protection for consumers of financial advice.

The government introduced regulations on Monday watering down important aspects of the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws, but Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party are set to disallow the regulations once the Senate sits again in a week.

Victim Merilyn Swan, who gave evidence on April 10, said that, unlike other senators on the multi-party committee, ''Senator Bushby has never spoken with us and he certainly does not know us''.

In her evidence, Ms Swan told the economics reference committee about how one of CBA's worst planners, ''Dodgy'' Don Nguyen, took less than two years to reduce her parents' $260,000 retirement nest-egg to just $92,000.

''Senator Bushby didn't even bother to attend nor listen via phone hook-up to the compelling evidence given by the whistleblower Jeff Morris, and the CBA victims,'' she said.

She dismissed Senator Bushby's six-page report as ''irrelevant'' when put against the 547 pages making up the majority findings.

''Shame on Senator Cormann for embracing six pages from a 553-page report because he and the government are too frightened to have a royal commission into the CBA,'' she said.

''They should be more frightened of the fact that the largest and most profitable Australian bank has been found to be involved in systematic fraud, forgery and misleading and deceptive conduct and has, within its senior management, individuals who were so bereft of personal and professional integrity that a systematic cover-up was preferable to admitting liability and taking responsible action to address the issues.''

Senator Bushby was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

Mr Morris, whose disclosures to Fairfax Media triggered the Senate inquiry, said the senator's dissenting report was ''rather sketchy''. ''I was disappointed that Mathias Cormann was hosing down the prospect of a royal commission even before he had read the comprehensive 550-page bipartisan report,'' he said.

In a statement, Senator Cormann said: "The most important question on my mind is what course of action is most likely to achieve a satisfactory resolution for victims with legitimate outstanding and unresolved issues … I am not convinced that yet another inquiry at this point is the best and most efficient way to resolve outstanding issues for victims."

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