Australians have paid an “immense” financial and emotional price for misconduct in the banking industry, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says.
He released the final report from the banking royal commission on Monday and said the community had watched in disbelief at the shocking evidence presented in the inquiry.
“From today the banking sector must change and change forever,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
“My message to the financial sector today is that this misconduct must end and you must put the interest of the consumers first.”
The treasurer promised action on all 76 recommendations in the report, including giving financial regulators the power to crack down on bad behaviour.
“The price paid by our community for this misconduct is immense, and goes beyond just the financial,” he said.
“There have been broken businesses and the emotional stress and personal pain has broken lives.”
The regulators also copped criticism during the royal commission for being too weak on big banks and financial institutions.
“If nothing else, the public is entitled to expect that the law is applied and enforced,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Speaking before the report was released, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says he feels vindicated in having pushed for more than two years for the commission to take place.
“The victims and consumers and people who believe in having an honest and ethical banking sector, we’ll keep being in their corner and we’ll make sure this government does not backslide on the banks,” he told reporters in Tasmania.
“It’s a day of reckoning for the banks and financial institutions who have abused the trust of literally thousands of their customers.”
Labor’s financial services spokeswoman Claire O’Neil says an apology from the banks won’t cut it.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott said the inquiry had exposed horrific conduct by banks and their staff and that should not go unpunished.
But that didn’t mean the whole system was rotten, he added.
“In this era when no one ever takes personal responsibility for anything, when something goes wrong we assume it’s a systemic fault as opposed to an individual’s fault,” he told 2GB radio.
“What I don’t want to do is to see the system gummed up by a whole lot of additional regulation rather than see the people who have actually done the wrong thing being appropriately punished.”
Influential Senate crossbenchers Pauline Hanson and Derryn Hinch said criminal charges should be laid against those found to have done the wrong thing.
“Somebody has to face criminal charges here because some of the actions were absolutely unconscionable,” Senator Hinch told Seven’s Sunrise program, while Senator Hanson said there should be jail sentences.
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