Labor will push for a parliamentary vote on a banking royal commission in a bid to wedge National Party MPs and Liberal backbenchers who have previously supported the move.
Shadow Special Minister of State Stephen Conroy this morning indicated Labor would seek to give MPs such as Queensland Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch and NSW National John “Wacka” Williams the opportunity to prove they’re not “all talk”.
“This isn’t a tactic. We campaigned on this,” Senator Conroy told Sky News.
“If we have the capacity to put forward legislation to introduce a royal commission, then I think it should be on the table for us.
“We haven’t had a discussion about this yet, but I’d like to expose the fact that when push comes to shove those (like) National Party Senator John Williams and people like Warren Entsch who talk the talk vote the other way.
“So I think they should be exposed and if they have the courage to back what they’ve always said they believe in, then the banking royal commission will pass.”
The Australian’s Editor-at-large Paul Kelly responded to Senator Conroy’s comments by saying such an outcome would be “grievous damage” to Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.“It would do his authority as Prime Minister tremendous harm,” Mr Kelly said.
Senator Conroy said credit card interest rates which remain in the teens despite official interest rates being around two and three per cent indicated the banks continued to take advantage of consumers, justifying Labor’s continued calls for a Royal Commission.
“The banks have just used their muscle, their clout, their money to avoid being brought to account,” he said.
“Only a Royal Commission can actually expose, totally, the culture that just absolutely dominates the banking system.”
Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs Sam Dastyari said the fate of a Labor motion calling for a royal commission would depend on conservatives crossing the floor.
“We’ll make tactical decisions as we get closer but all of it could be fixed if the Prime Minister could stop running a protection racket for Australian banks,” Senator Dastyari said.
“A Royal Commission needs to specifically have enough scope to look at what’s gone on with credit card interest rates.
“Right now, average credit card, a standard credit card interest rate, is 19.75 per cent when the cash rate is 1.5%.”This Article first appeared in the www.theaustralian.com.auAuthor: Rachel Baxendale