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CBA financial planning scandal: Senator David Bushby was missing at crucial hearing

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Ben Butler, Adele Ferguson

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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.

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

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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128 comments

  • He didn't turn up yet the finance minister initially placed a lot of weight on his six pages.

    The LNP told us before the election they had policies in place, costings completed... blah, blah, blah. We now know they were just lazy and don't have anything in place. If you look at the parliamentary sittings for the since they've been in govt hardly any legislation has been put forward and the legislation that has been put forward is poorly constructed and thoughtless.

    This is a govt with no policies, no vision and no idea.

    Commenter
    n720ute
    Location
    North Coast NSW
    Date and time
    July 02, 2014, 7:09AM
    • So you are telling us you know now they had no policies prior to the election, however you did not know that at voting time ? Were you too busy reading about the drugs in sport scandals in the media to notice Tony Abbott's body language and speech patterns and actually listen to his statements which contained nothing ? He successfully avoided the spotlight - there was no public debate or scrutiny and what he did not offer was not noticed. You'd have to be really dumb not to see him coming.

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yarrawonga
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 8:31AM
    • They did and do have something in place. It is a whole-hearted devotion to supporting the short-term interests of their big business pals, regardless of the cost to everyone else, the environment, democracy, future generations, etc.

      Commenter
      Common Wealth
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 8:32AM
    • Interestingly, in my job, if I fail to go to critical meetings or the various panels I am a member of, I would either be seriously counselled or removed from the role.

      Some of the current Government members have no regard for the little guy, the individuals, those individual people who are really hurting, whether through actions of CBA or the Government itself.

      It would just be nice to see some care and compassion, rather than callous disregard.

      Commenter
      Dismayed
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 8:39AM
    • Well said n72oute. Impotent, clueless and lost.

      Commenter
      Neil (not on radio) Mitchell
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 8:41AM
    • As with every other inquiry or report this government has initiated, the findings are either predetermined or ignored when contrary to the LNP's ideological wishes.
      A more juvenile, opaque, unaccountable and excuse ridden government than any in Australia's history.

      Thankfully it seems the Australian public is finally seeing through the lies and excuses and is appalled, as evidence by polling since Hockey's pathetic excuse for a budget. It is however an indictment on said public that so many couldn't have cared less when Abbott and Co's petty meanness and mindless maligning was limited to impacting others, such as the faved LNP targets of asylum seekers and the unemployed, for example. In any case, better late than never to have eyes opened and these ghouls revealed to be themselves reviled.

      Wouldn't it be just lovely if Abbott found the courage to go to a DD and fight an election based on what he and his party is and what he and his party will seek to do rather than the lies spouted at the last election. Judgement day and early retirement would be coming for him and his band of obfuscating nincompoops.
      It's quite telling that Abbott and his lot claim legitimacy when they are doing so very much to the contrary of what they promised prior to the last election. The LNP's cavalcade of lies and deceit have removed any hint of a mandate and indeed laid waste to any claim to legitimacy. How very much like the CBA this mob of extremists are. No morals, no decency and no respect for the Australian people or our democracy.

      Commenter
      Warwick
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 10:02AM
    • Rob a service station of a few hundred and you go to jail, but if you systematically, steal millions from customers you are allowed to avoid any prosecution even if you cover up and 'convince' the responsible Senitor to go AWOL. In fact Abbott will put in effort to relax the laws to protect the innocent so you go steal more. Horray team LNP!

      Commenter
      QED
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 11:03AM
    • Maybe he had a headache. But sure as hell if this mob doesn't start acting in the interests of Australians they'll end up with a collective hangover.
      Time for that federal version of an ICAC.

      Commenter
      A country gal
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 12:43PM
    • This doesn't surprise me. This government has never listened to the people. Why would they start now?

      Commenter
      Tone
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 12:53PM
    • Why should Senator Bushby have turned up to the hearing on 10 April? It would have been a complete waste of time. His dissenting report was already written by then!

      Commenter
      Greg Platt
      Location
      Brunswick
      Date and time
      July 02, 2014, 1:51PM

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