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Bankers, Tankers, Anchors And The Liberal Party…

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years, is that being honest is usually you’re best option. Of course, like most people, I find myself in situations where I’ve… ah, shall we say, bent the truth. This leads me to another bit of sound advice. If you’re lying, you’re better off saying nothing after it’s clear that you’re lying. Or else, do a full mea culpa and admit that either a) you were mistaken, or b) you lied.

In politics, this is usually looked upon as a refreshing change. Unless, of course, you do it on a weekly basis, in which case it’s not a change at all.

So when it comes to the Liberal Party, I acknowledge that we have a different set of values and while I personally understand that there’s some need for a defence force, I believe that the $200 billion we’re spending on planes and submarines over the next ten years might be more productively spent elsewhere. But, like I said, different set of values. There’s a discussion to be had, when two people have differing priorities and sometimes a compromise can be reached.

On the other hand, lying is a completely different matter. It’s one thing to say that: We told you that privatisation would make energy prices cheaper,  that was before we realised that private companies would put profit before everything – but now we’ve realised that, we’ve put a few safeguards in and any day now you’ll get all the benefits of privatisation. Besides you’ve got energy stocks in your super so you’re ridiculously high energy prices are actually helping you save for retirement.

That still fits under the definition of a difference of opinion. However, when the Liberals start to tell us that the Banking Royal Commission which they opposed has nothing to do with the new penalties that Scott just happened to announce at the same time that everyone is going: “Shock, horror. Banks exploiting their customers. Who would have thought such a thing!”

It’s very hard to believe the Liberals when they tell us:  We argued that there was no need for a commission, but we set one up anyway, and now that it’s finding all these examples of wrongdoing, it’s showing that it wasn’t necessary until we decided it was necessary, and, in spite of all that it’s discovering, it’s not having any effect on us, because all the new oversight and any new penalties are just things that we were going to do anyway.

Or to try and put the government’s position as simply as possible;

  1. There was no need for a Royal Commission because while there were some examples of dishonest or corrupt practices, there was plenty of checks and balances to ensure that these were these practices would be detected and dealt with.
  2. There was suddenly a need for a Royal Commission after some Nationals threatened to break ranks. It became even more pressing and one was announced shortly after the banks suggested that it would be ok by them if we had one.
  3. The Royal Commission starts to discover that the culture in some parts of the banks is even worse than its critics suggested, which doesn’t lead to any action from the Liberals because – according to Scott Morrison – all the new penalties were planned and not in response to anything happening at the Commission. Like the announcement of the Commission itself, the timing was just coincidence.
  4. For the Liberals the Royal Commission will be their equivalent of Schrodinger’s Cat – the thought experiment in Quantum Physics, where a cat in a sealed box can be thought of as both alive and dead. The Royal Commission wasn’t necessary when Labor and The Greens called for one, but became necessary once the Liberals decided that it was, meaning that the Commission is now both necessary and unnecessary. It remains necessary because the Liberals set it up, but it remains simultaneously unnecessary not only because Labor suggested it, but also because nothing it discovers will lead to any admission from the government that their actions have been influenced by it.

Like I said, liars need some consistency, or their story falls apart. On a real level, it would have been refreshing to have heard the Turnbull Terriers tell us that Labor and/or The Greens had raised a convincing enough argument for them to change their minds. But no, instead we have ministers once again trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Ah well, at least now I’ll find it easier to explain quantum physics without having animal rights people ask me why the poor cat was sealed in the box.

The Schrodinger Royal Commission! Mm, it has a certain ring to it…

 


18 comments

  1. Terry2

    It seems with the Liberal National coalition, telling the truth or telling lies depends very much on where you are sitting in the parliament.

    If you are on the back-bench as is Barnaby Joyce , when it comes to the banking Royal Commission you can tell the truth as Barnaby did the other day : “My previous position of not wanting a royal commission was wrong. So I was wrong”.

    But if you are on the front-bench as Turnbull, Morrison and Kelly O’Dwyer are you will almost certainly tell lies and pretend that you were always in favour of the Royal Commission but it was Labor who wanted a much narrower enquiry until our heroes stepped in and did the right thing.

    In reality Malcolm Turnbull and his mates insisted that there was absolutely no reason for a royal commission; it would be a long and costly process, and would achieve nothing; the existing regulators are more than sufficient for the task. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission in particular is a tough cop on the beat, with all the powers and more of a Royal Commission.

    But, hold on it was this government that had cut $120 million out of the ASIC budget, which the ASIC Commissioner Greg Medcraft said at the time was preventing the Commission from undertaking proactive investigations and leaving ASIC as a toothless tiger, unable or unwilling to take on the big end of town.

  2. Christina Heath

    Great article. Kelly O’Dwyer’s trainwreck performance on ABC’s Insiders this morning reinforced everything you said. Of course the LNP were not acting as protectionists for the banks, they were not dragged kicking and screaming into the Royal Commission. As Kelly so “soberly” explained, the delays were all Labor’s fault. And of course we all believe Kelly, after all she is an ex executive of the NAB, what’s not to believe!!

  3. Rossleigh

    Yes, terry2, I was going to add something about finding a new level of respect for Barnaby, but I thought that itd only be a matter of moments before I had to an even bigger backflip than the Liberals on the Royal Commission because what would be the odds on Joyce doing two things right in a week?

  4. Keeith

    The LNP is going into its 5 year of having more seats in the House of Representatives, but, Labor is to blame.
    Trust the LNP at your own peril.

  5. Zathras

    According the the coalition, Royal Commissions into institutions are intended only for matters concerning Trade Unions.
    Royal Commissions are there as just a political tool to be used on your enemies.

    Anything else is just plainly unfair, unreasonable and unwarranted, including the practices involving financial institutions or matters involving systemic child abuse and are best avoided unless you can score political points.

  6. Henry Rodrigues

    Watching Kelly running rings around herself with that stupid look on her face, was something to behold. I thought Barry was too soft on her, letting her ramble on, presenting herself as a responsible minister responding to the financial chicanery going on at the highest levels of the industry. As for that innumerate idiot Morrison, he’s too thick skinned to ever concede or apologize. All eyes are now on the golden Turd,the wanker from Point Piper, who insisted that there was nothing to see here, so move along folks.He’s delaying his return back to get some fresh air between himself and the questions that he needs to answer. Questions that the MSM won’t ask but nevertheless, he has to address. Even now, that bastard Murdoch’s minions won’t touch the story. And of course we have the Turdball tragics like Katharine Murphy of the Guardian who are trying to give it as beneficial a treatment as possible.

  7. Kronomex

    In other words because of their, no doubt donation driven in part, intransigence they have been forced into the commission by pressure from all sides, including back bench termites like Abbott and Joyce, they now fall back upon their childish mantra, “It’s all Labors fault.” Their spin…stuff it, I’m going back to the old phrase..public relations firms will be trying to put the gloss back on the rotting corpse that is the federal LNP.

  8. 245179

    what astounds me is kelly and cohorts actually believe they ( LNP ) should be taking the credits for exposing the banks. It’s gobsmacking in the extreem. The “insiders” report today was pure gold, she floundered, thrashed the water, presented that stupid look of hers and we watched her train wreck roll along. ( another day closer to an election ) worst govt in my lifetime.

  9. Andreas Bimba

    Private capital, both foreign and local, is our enemy. It lies behind our financial services sector, minerals sector and the rest of the major corporations. It funds the most powerful think tanks, much of the commercial mass media, the political class and even sets the agenda for the economics profession.

    The objectives are always to maximise profit, evade taxation and regulations and enslave consumers and workers. The democratic political process was supposed to represent the best interests of citizens and to provide a balance of power but the political process has been bought as well.

    The high cost of essential utilities like electricity, gas, water and telecommunications, for privatised public transport, for toll roads, for privatised infrastructure like airports and seaports, for privatised healthcare and insurance, for privatised pensions in the form of the fraudulent superannuation system, for privatised education – represent private sector taxes by private capital. We are being screwed.

    The superannuation sector alone charges management fees of over $31 billion per year to deliver rates of return that are in general well below the appreciation rate of the applicable share market indices. In other words a blind static investment fund could do better at almost no cost.

    Our manufacturing sector that was never the world’s most productive but was nevertheless one of the best has been exposed to unrestricted import competition and hundreds of thousands of relatively well paid and stable jobs have now been lost while private capital evades effective competition through favorable legislation and crony capitalism.

    Private capital wanted us to import our manufactured goods so that their was more economic head room for our raw material exports and so that the Australian dollar did not appreciate so much which would have reduced the profitability of the raw material export sector.

    Private capital destroyed most of the jobs and dictates the macroeconomic policy of federal government austerity which locks in high levels of unemployment and underemployment. This helps to keep wages low and trade unions weak.

    The sad thing is that the federal government has the macroeconomic capacity to ensure full employment and to provide all the needed funding for first rate social services across the board, to provide adequate funding support for the state and local government sector, for aged pensions at a reasonable age and for first rate public infrastructure.

    We do not need private capital to the extent that most of us think we do and we certainly should not accept the current control of the political process and mass media by private capital.

  10. New England Cocky

    LNP … the government you have when you are NOT having proper representation of the best interests of the voters.

  11. John Lord

    It’s only one area of business. You have to wonder what goes on in other areas.

  12. 245179

    @ jl……the full /true goings on would buckle us all to our knees. “watergate, and every other gate” would pale into insignifigence. This conduct is not new / recent, govts know full well what’s been occurring.
    When our own PM has funds lodged in an offshore tax haven, that alone defines how carefully tax laws have been constructed in favour of the well healed. What hope does average joe blo have.

  13. Ingrid Srubjan

    Good article Rossleigh and I agree with all the comments here. And John Lord, I agree, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are huge ramifications here for society as well as the economy. Two major things spring to mind-how do we teach our children about honesty if banks commit financial crime, and secondly, what happens when our jobs run out? Whether it’s automation, outsourcing, or through temporary importation of low paid immigrants, they surely will and then the whole system collapses. It astonishes me that we have no plans for either climate change or financial collapse.

  14. diannaart

    John Lord

    Nail on head – we are only finding out about a part of the Finance Sector – within parameters set by the banks and the LNP – that it has revealed more than intended is a good thing. But all we are getting is the crusty top of the cesspool. Will the RC be given an extension of both time and investigative tools which is necessary,as indicated by the crusties found thus.

    Rossleigh

    Regarding Barnaby – he claimed he had no idea that an RC was urgently needed, playing to the game of “if caught out in a lie, mitigate the damage by admitting to a lesser mistake”.

    Mr Joyce apologised for “being so naive to have swallowed their line of ‘we are good corporate citizens’”.

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/04/19/barnaby-joyce-banking-royal-commission/

    Naive? Pig’s arse!

    Ignorance is no defence either.

  15. 245179

    When the 2 majors are so corrupted within, when politics is driven in part by career politicians, when tax laws favour the rich, when multinationals funnel huge profits overseas avoiding tax, when lying is the norm, when aged folks are deemed a burden, when mental health goes cap in hand for funds, when a tennis / golf / NBL player whatever, receives millions per yr, when children have / are being preyed on by various religious groups………surely, something is not right.

  16. Matters Not

    Any Inquiry into financial matters that doesn’t include the ASX (massive insider trading) and the big 4 Accountancy firms (Ernst & Young; Deloittes; KPMG; and PWC – PricewaterhouseCoopers)) merely scratches the surface of corrupt practices.

    Take transfer pricing as an example. Approximately one-third of the large companies operating in Australia pay no tax in Australia. (The Banks do.) Made possible via advice from one or more of the big 4 accountancy firms. Yet they are not included in this RC. The elephant in the room remains invisible. As for insider trading, the dollars involved are mind boggling. Yet there’s nary a mention.

  17. Glenn Barry

    I’m loving the Royal Commission and simply cannot wait for Maljudgement Turnbull’s triumphant return because I really want to see if someone in the media will give him some stick at a press conference.

    Turnbull’s turn at the helm is now so much worse than Abbott

  18. Ill fares the land

    Perversely, if the unwatchable O’Dwyer had just simply said – “we were wrong”, she would have gained some respect and the issue would simply deflate there and then. Instead, as she is compelled to do (in part because of her background as a banker and partly because she is a politician – and both professions are reliant upon heavy use of “weasel words” and spin), she blathered and resorted to non-answers to try and navigate a pathway out of the whirlpool. Same with Turnbull and Morrison – if they came clean they would simply end the arguments – where do you go if the LNP agrees that they were wrong. They might have to deal with the peripheral issues – one being the evisceration of ASIC funding which left ASIC inadequately resourced and the second being that they were “asleep at the wheel” by ignoring the signs that the bank cultures were out of control, but their spin doctors could deal with those matters quite simply I expect.

    The facts show that like our politicians, big business simply can’t be trusted. They do whatever they can get away with and exploit workersm customers, smaller rivals and the environment for their own gain and invest millions, if not billions in hiring the masters of weasel words,as their spin doctors who then make up lies, implement cover ups (a very common strategy) or find ways to divert attention (with the help of their friends in the conservative media). How were the banks NOT doing what they have been shown to be doing? The detail might be a surprise, but the banking cultures should not be. I did some work alongside banking exec’s for one of the failed state banks three decades ago and it was frightening how the “cowboy”; boofhead, greedy corporate psychopath culture was still on display despite the fact that these a**holes had brought more than one state close to financial ruin. And then, despite the GFC, the bank cultures still didn’t change.

    My suggestion is simple – make boards and CEO’s criminally liable for the acts of their organisations. Once a few of them start being charged and jailed, the rest will very quickly fall into line. The reality is that virtually no CEO’s or Directors do jail-time for even the most blatant examples of fraud (how many shadow bank executives have defrauded multi-millions out of customers with virtual impunity?), so the risks of being caught and punished for their actions is very low and humans tend to measure these things in risk. People in SUV’s and dual-cab utes tend to drive aggressively because the risk of their behaviours is borne by the drivers of smaller cars – why would people behave differently in business?

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