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Day to Day Politics: It’s bloody simple when you think about it … a Royal Commission, that is

Wednesday 13 April.

1 Labor proposes a Royal Commission into the financial sector. Particularly the banks. The establishment and those of a conservative ilk cry foul. ASIC, a major regulatory body say they continuously investigate crime and have adequate powers. Repeat, powers. In fact our financial institutions are overseen by four regulatory bodies. The harshest in the world, people of the right scream out.

To me it’s rather simple and I don’t profess any superiority of intellect.

A Royal Commission is needed to find out why in spite of the best oversight in the world it is not working. I can’t make it any clearer than that.

I don’t understand why it is at press conferences when the Prime Minister and others espouse what they see as an almost faultless system of regulation, why some journalists with a bit of brain doesn’t ask the fundamental question:

“Can you please explain then why it doesn’t seem to be working?”

Sabra Lane had the perfect opportunity to put the question to Deputy PM on 7.30 Tuesday night but let the opportunity slip.

Mind you it might have some relationship to the reason why the ATO can’t collect tax from multinationals. They sacked the staff collecting it, or conversely it might be, in ASIC’s case (200 sacked) that the $100s of millions ripped from its budget is affecting its capacity to investigate.

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft at the commissions Annual Meeting last year said that they were “very thinly resourced”.

In 2013 he said Australia was too soft on corporate criminals and that the Country was a “paradise” for white-collar criminals and the regulator could do little about it because it lacked the resources.

So it seems they have heaps of power with no one to enforce it.

The argument that Labor opposed a Royal Commission last year is a nebulous one. Things can always get worse to the point where a change of mind is not only justified but necessary.

A change of mind when it addresses the common good is a worthwhile thing to do.

Or one also could argue that Labor is making a stand against the greed and corruption being perpetuated on us by big business and the right of the political spectrum in general. If you want to put this to the test, go to a pub or apply Turnbull’s own fairness test.

We don’t live in a right-wing democracy. When you only have Royal Commissions into matters relating to your political opponents and ignore those associated with you, you leave a stench of hypocrisy that has a whiff of gutter politics about it.

As for the banks reaction they are considering a mining type advertising campaign against the opposition.

To quote marketing consultant Tony Ralph , who has apparently worked on a number of similar campaigns.

”no doubt the banks can run a campaign that will turn the political opportunism of a Royal Commission into an electoral nightmare for Labor”

And if Labor gained power and I hypothetically were leader I would have no hesitation into having a Royal Commission into the Ashbygate Affair.

2 Monday’s ABC Four Corners, if nothing else, confirmed that Clive Palmer is a grubby individual and that nothing in the world matters unless it is of benefit to him. His entry into politics was solely calculated to be profitable to him. The appointed administrator suggests that a “reckless” Clive Palmer instructed Queensland Nickel to pay him nearly $15 million and may have acted as a shadow director for the company according to an administrator’s report which recommends winding up the Townsville-based operation.

He might join a long list of corporate names like Elliott, Bond and Skase. Perhaps a Royal Commission into the breakdown of corporate law.

3 Tuesday’s Essential Poll still has the parties tied on 50/50 apiece. In my view 40% are rusted onto each party. The Greens have about 10% and the rest are undecided.

One should never pre suppose that in a democracy the party you support should be the only one that ever wins. But a vote for the Coalition this time would be an acknowledgement that you are satisfied with bad government and would be happy to experience another three years of it. That you would be happy with a further decline in the standards of our political institutions. You wouldn’t care if your children suffered in their education or if inequality increased. In short you would accept mediocrity, or worse. The right would of course interpret your vote as one of confidence and your regret would be twofold in the realisation that you had committed the same sin twice. Too late then.

I wrote this a short time after the last election:

“I have wondered since the election what I will write about for the next three years. I have concluded that it is my duty to hold the government to account. To see to it that the Government governs honestly and transparently and that the media reports news rather than opinion in the guise of propaganda”.

I think I have been true to my word.

“I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have hate on their lips and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile”.

My thought for the day.

“Are you really doing what is important? What you believe in, or have you just adjusted to what you are doing”.


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  1. Terry2

    Bernie Fraser (former Reserve Bank Governor) made some interesting and thoughtful observations about a Royal Commission into banks and finance industry.

    As he points out, it could take six months to get the RC up and running and, of course it has to be thorough and could take a couple of years before any recommendations were actually made.

    Fraser suggests an alternative, more focused investigation , led by ASIC with an expert impartial panel. The main problem according to Bernie is the culture within the big banks which puts customers a distant third after shareholders and management : a culture that needs to be laid bare and the greed that feeds it exposed.

  2. OzFenric

    The problem for Labor is that you make a lot more political headway promising a Royal Commission than just saying “we’ll ask ASIC to do what they should already be doing”. An RC is a lot more visible, too – and that makes it far more political. Child abuse cases have been investigated for decades with barely no public notice, but the RC is having the effect of shaking the tree, bringing a lot more victims out of the woodwork, and generating a huge amount of media attention and thus public interest. The government was hoping for the same outcomes from their RC into unions – with the problem for them being that the outcomes were inconsequential for most people.

    I imagine that an RC into banks and finance will be a lot more significant. There are very few of us who won’t get aggrieved when we hear about corruption and bank malpractice, because very few of us are beneficiaries. You could argue that this will trigger a class war, but the class war is already going on; the only reason the rich-list 2% aren’t overwhelmed by the interests and good of the 98% majority is because they control the institutions that hold it all together. An RC would simply redress some of this imbalance.

  3. SGB

    It is simple

    1. Stop all private contribitions to political parties.

    2. Establish a National ICAC.

    A National ICAC must have power and jurisdiction over the Commonwealth incuding States and Territories.
    With powers of financial audit and legal compliance investigation, pertaining to any governance, government, political parties (incuding politicians and their staff) government departments and agencies or government service providers (private, NGOs and public). In addition the financial audit and legal compliance, of these entities and any entity that claims charitable status, or recieves government funding in the excess of $250,000 per annum, or any private entity that receives a commissions from the public purse

    Every person who then has dealings with the public purse will expect to to be held accountable, and failure to comply with the law would lead to a sanction, be it financial or loss of liberty.

  4. Steve Laing -

    Even simpler. Ban political parties. We don’t need them anymore. They allow a very small minority of people, and their financial backers, far too much say on running the country. Party branches are too easily highjacked by nutjobs who can get their nutjob candidate elected under the disguise of the more moderate published views of the overall party. The LNP is full of them!

  5. John

    @SGB Perfect!

    I wonder how this would float if the TPP is ratified.

  6. Matters Not

    Ban political parties

    Really? An entire Parliament made up of independents, each with their own (unique) view of the world – what it ‘is’, how it ‘ought’ to be and how that ‘ought’ might or ought to be achieved.

    Presumably, we would still want some form of ‘majority’ decision making arrangements. If so, then ‘alliances’ would form, albeit ‘temporary’ in the initial stages. Political ‘debts’ would result. Then would come the ‘groupings’ with more and more political debts mounting.

    Then hey presto we would see the emergence of ‘parties’. Even with the current ‘independents’ in the Senate we now see ‘groupings’ and they have little or no responsibility for initiating legislation, electing Speakers, Ministers or whoever.

    At least with ‘parties’ we would have some idea of what they are committed to. Without ‘parties’ we would have a much higher level of uncertainty. In short, it would be a circus.

    Parties, while far from perfect, have more ‘upside’ than ‘downside’.

  7. cornlegend

    Seems Daniel Andrews has been a busy lad in the last week
    Malcolm, take note, shit can happen
    Premier Daniel Andrews has just announced more than half a billion towards family violence over two years. $572m
    Legalised Medical Marijuana First state in Australia. History made.

    Daniel Andrews ‏@DanielAndrewsMP 22h22 hours ago

    We’re not winding back Safe Schools. End of story. Daniel Andrews ‏@DanielAndrewsMP 22h

    Daniel Andrews ‏@DanielAndrewsMP Apr 7

    We’re supporting drought affected farmers whose jobs and livelihoods are in the lurch.

    New Sunshine & MICA 3 branch officially opened today! Great news for the communities we serve in Melbourne’s west.

  8. OzFenric

    Matters Not, surely there can be some political reform? I have no problem with “de facto” parties existing based on quid pro quo, common interest etc. What gets me is politicians forced to vote (or campaign) against their personal beliefs to appease the requirements of their party. What annoys me is the lack of voice for alternative positions – even if an independent or private member forwards a novel solution, a small group of leaders in each party sets the party’s opinion and response. A decent proposal doesn’t have to win the support of the majority; it just needs the elite. Having a Parliament and Senate full of independents might mean that any proposal can be judged on its merits.

    What *really* bugs me is the whole concept of “safe seats”. The two-party system virtually guarantees that a majority of seats are permanently welded to a party and thus, voters in those areas are disenfranchised. The Coalition can put up a complete nob for a candidate and if it’s a safe seat we have an extra nob in Parliament. Banning party tickets might be one way of ensuring that each electoral contest is fought on the basis of stated positions, and bring some measure of accountability to our elected politicians.

    Of course, all of that is wishful thinking and has little reflection in what would happen in reality.

  9. townsvilleblog

    John, I usually don’t comment on your letters, I simply nod my head in agreement. As usual again today, you are spot on, I’m just hoping that you also send your letters to the MSM so that it at least keeps them in touch with what Australians really think. I write often to the newspapers, and to my Townsvilleblog site to try to get the message out as to what I consider to be right and wrong. Great work mate, please keep up the good work, and understand that there is an audience who do not comment but always agree with your views.

  10. townsvilleblog

    To people who have commented here regarding political parties, I agree and disagree simultaneously. What is needed is a party of the people, representing the people who can’t be bribed and are committed to improving the lives of their fellow Australians, until then we will have to settle for the Labor Party, who at least are a tad responsible.

  11. Backyard Bob


    Political Parties are inevitable for the reasons Matters Not gave. Yes, they are problematic and there are many reasons for that, some of them perhaps intractable, but we’re stuck with them and that’s not really a bad thing. I’ll say more on that but for now I’ve got to go and put John Lord’s pub test notion to the, um, test. Been testing it for some time now, I have to say. Sometimes procrastination is a virtue.

  12. Sir Scotchmistery

    @OZFENRIC well said. Did you have anyone in mind? As soon as I saw the word “nob” Warringah sprang to mind.

  13. Jack Russell

    Regarding political parties…if politicians were not so smugly untouchable behind the immunity barrier they have created for themselves by tinkering with our legal system for that purpose, then it would seem that the first step would be to remove the legal invulnerability they have gifted themslves, in all its labyrinthine forms.

    If they were inescapably personally liable for every act of deception they commit, including removal from office never to serve again, with loss of salary, pensions and all other financial lurks, we could very well see a lot of honest, decent people holding our highest offices.

    A government’s sole purpose is to serve US, not their own interests. That needs to be clearly understood, and enforced.

  14. ImagiNation

    Royal Commission into the financial sector? It will never happen.
    You would have to be living under a rock not to know all banks (Australia too) are all owned by the very same 1% who own everything else. The chances of any ‘puppet in power’ no matter who it is examining the secret dealings of our Rothschild controlled existence are to quote, ‘ none and f all’.

  15. Matters Not

    surely there can be some political reform? I have no problem with “de facto” parties existing based on quid pro quo, common interest etc. What gets me is politicians forced to vote (or campaign) against their personal beliefs to appease the requirements of their party

    Not opposed to ‘political reform’. Democracy within the ‘party’ as a whole could be greatly improved and we have the technology to do just that. The idea of going to Branch Meetings once a month and attending to trivial matters is only for the ‘brain dead’. Meetings ‘online’ would see a great increase in membership. And so on.

    As for politicians forced to there’s an upside to that as well. Members who are elected under a party ‘endorsement’ have some obligation to follow the ‘party line’. Recently, we had the case of Senator Joe Bullock who signalled his resignation because he couldn’t ‘live’ with the ALP policy on ‘marriage equality’. As he indicated, he was elected via ALP endorsement (the only reason he got there) and therefore he didn’t think it right and proper to remain a Senator because his personal views were at odds with the party view. For that he ought to be congratulated.

    Further, party endorsement not only provides some ‘guarantees’ re behaviour it also offers the politician some protection against pressure groups within his/her electorate. They have something to hide behind as it were (Party Policy). Now many would find that ‘distasteful’ but look at what happens in the United States where ‘party discipline’ is almost non existent. The NRA, for example, succeeds in scaring the sh$t out of certain, selected local members under the threat of running local campaigns against what they see as bad ‘choices’.

    But note also the protection provided to voters against large corporations (in the US) who ‘buy’ certain ‘key’ politicians through large donations. At least here they have to buy the whole party and can be seen at work. And so on.

    As I say there’s some ‘upside’; mainly in the area of ‘predictability’.

  16. lawrencesroberts

    Easy. Nationalize one bank or even better and won’t cost as much; Just come up with a federal e-bank. Pay pensioners first and then move on to mortgages, that ought to do it.

  17. Ken McGrath

    Hi John, as said before love your work :).
    I have just gone to the face book page of our PM and have been de-humened, I can no longer post on his page! Must have pissed him off somehow lol. I will wear that badge with pride but it does beg the question why will our democratically elected PM refuse to allow a voting citizen to post on his public page? I always was polite simply asked logical questions in response to their ideology whilst providing academic evidence to ask them to respond too.
    Democracy is dead imo, Ken

  18. stephentardrew

    Better late than never. Thank you John another thoughtful article. The haters are surely dysfunctional egotist with little regard for our humanity or morality.

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