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It's time to break up the banks: Greens

Media Release
Richard Di Natale 8 Aug 2018

Leader of the Australian Greens Dr Richard Di Natale and Treasury Spokesperson Sen. Peter Whish-Wilson today unveiled a proposal for a sweeping overhaul of our banking and financial services sector, as well as the regulatory and governance system underpinning it. Simply put: it's time to break up the banks.

"The Hayne Royal Commission has proven that the foundations of our banking and financial system are rotted through. It's past time we stopped letting these huge corporations get away with fraud, bribery and other systemic abuses of the customers they are supposed to serve," Di Natale said.

"The Greens led the charge to establish a Royal Commission into the banking sector and we are the only party with a real, simple solution to the abuses it has uncovered: break up the banks."

"It's time that banks became banks again. Australians are sick and tired of these massive financial institutions getting away with murder because they can throw stacks of money at the two old political parties. Our banks should be working for us, not against us and this policy will make sure that happens.

Under the Greens proposal:

  • Banks will no longer be able to own wealth management businesses that both create financial products and spruik them to unsuspecting customers.
  • Consumers will be able to easily distinguish between the simple and essential products and services that the vast majority of Australians use—deposits and loans, superannuation and insurance—and the more complex and selective activity that is the domain of big business, the wealthy, and the adventurous.
  • By removing hidden conflicts of interest, Australians will be able to trust that the advice they're getting from their banker is designed to line their own pocket, not the other way round.
  • The watchogs have failed. We would strip ASIC of its responsibility for overseeing consumer protection and competition within the essential services of basic banking, insurance and superannuation and return them to the ACCC.

“I have been grilling the banks and ASIC in Senate Inquiries for five years and have come to the conclusion that fiddling around the edges isn’t going to change things. ASIC is just too close to the banks and is more interested in keeping the financial sector happy than it is in protecting consumers," Whish Wilson said.

“This policy is about putting consumer welfare back in as a primary objective of how we regulate our banks.  The Howard and Keating deregulation agenda put the banks first and these reforms are about putting the people first.

“We need to break up the banks so they are no longer too big to regulate. We have to strip consumer protection powers over the banks from ASIC and APRA and give them to the ACCC. We need to have a regulator that is interested in policing the banks and pursuing justice when wrongdoing occurs, not one that issues speeding fines for highway robbery.

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