Banks go on the offensive against royal commission – The Sydney Morning Herald

The Australian Bankers Association has gone on the offensive against Labor’s proposed banking royal commission, releasing new polling it claims shows a sharp drop in support for an inquiry.

The new poll shows, according to the ABA, that two-thirds of Australians do not support a royal commission into the major banks once they are appraised of the fact that it would take two years to hold such an inquiry, and that it would not have the power to impose fines, provide compensation, change laws or make recommendations government would have to implement.

Fab four’s greatest hits

The CEOs of the four big banks sing from the same song sheet at a parliamentary inquiry – to a hard-to-please audience.

The weighted Galaxy poll of 1000 people, conducted from October 6 to 9, has been released a week after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed a banking tribunal that would be established to assist the victims of poor banking practices, the sixth measure or step taken by government to, at least in part, stave of Labor’s push for a royal commission.

The pollsters also pointed out a royal commission had the power to compel witnesses and organisations to give evidence and produce documents, and make non-binding recommendations.

The banks say a quarter of people polled were actively opposed to a banking royal commission.
The banks say a quarter of people polled were actively opposed to a banking royal commission. Photo: Paul Rovere

The poll found 46 per cent of people backed “action” being taken to change the banking industry while 11 per cent opposed action and 42 per cent expressed neither view.

This contrasts with a Fairfax-Ipsos poll published in April which found 65 per cent of people agreed there should be “a royal commission into the behaviour of Australian banks”. Proponents of such an inquiry are likely to point out the Galaxy poll did not specifically ask if such an inquiry should be held.

Once appraised of some if the powers a royal commission had, 21 per cent of respondents opposed a royal commission, 41 per cent supported it and 38 per cent had neither view.

And when it was pointed out the inquiry would take two years, 36 per cent of people back the inquiry, while 64 per cent of respondents (25 per cent opposed, 39 per cent with no view) did not support a royal commission.

Bankers Association chief Steve Munchenberg said that previous poll findings on such an inquiry had been inflated and the questions had been open-ended “by the fact the question asked of respondents was whether they “would support a royal commission, or similar independent inquiry”.

“In fact, the latest poll shows that a quarter, or 25 per cent, are actively opposed to a royal commission and people who neither support nor oppose a royal commission constitute the majority of those polled, at around 40 per cent of the sample,” he said.

“People don’t believe a royal commission is the right way to go when they understand that it can’t impose fines on banks or force banks to pay compensation, and it can’t change laws or do anything other than make recommendations which the Government of the day is not bound to implement.”

Despite the findings, Bill Shorten and Labor are unlikely to change their view on a royal commission.

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