Why Llew O'Brien wants a Royal Commission into banks
MEMBER for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien yesterday confirmed he would support National Party colleague Senator Barry O'Sullivan's bill to establish a judicial inquiry into the banking, insurance, superannuation and financial service industry.
Mr O'Brien said he has been considering the matter for many months and after examining Senator O'Sullivan's bill and expanding the proposed inquiry's terms of reference to include consideration of mental health conditions on insurance policies, he supports the revised bill.
"My support is for Senator O'Sullivan's bill in its current form. If there are any changes or amendments to that bill I would need to reconsider my position," Mr O'Brien said.
"You only have to look at the figures shown in an ASIC report from 2014, which looked into retail life insurance policies and found 37% of advice offered to customers was inappropriate and did not meet their needs.
"We are hearing about perfectly healthy people who are denied life insurance because of a single instance of post-natal depression, or having been diagnosed once with anxiety, as a 14-year-old. This is pure and simple discrimination, and there are legitimate concerns that people will be less willing to seek help for mental health conditions as a result.
"There is clear evidence that many people all over Australia are frustrated by their experience with the industry and have been left hurt by practices which have eroded the trust of the public.
"This is about standing up for Australians who have been harmed by the way that some aspects of the industry have operated," Mr O'Brien said.
"The problems are many and varied and keep on recurring and while the government has made some efforts to bring in greater accountability, I believe the best way to focus the industry's attention on the consumer is through an inquiry.
"The cases demand action and a Commission of Inquiry will help to ensure the public's trust and confidence in the banks is justified, and that financial institutions will meet community expectations into the future.
"If the institutions are acting ethically and according to best practice the cost of an inquiry should be minimal. But if there are systemic problems they need to be remedied and this will achieve savings for consumers and taxpayers into the future."
Mr O'Brien said while the need for an inquiry has been identified by the House of Representatives and senate, it was time for the matter to be escalated above the political level to focus on independent expert advice.
"The House of Representatives inquiry was chaired by a politician, the senate inquiry was chaired by a politician, and now the banking commission has appointed a former Labor premier as their chief lobbyist," he said.
"The issue has become highly politicised - we need to take politics out of the issue and put it in the independent hands of the experts."