Denis Bright invites discussion on the ongoing role for Bill Shorten’s Banking Inquiry as federal parliament reconvenes on 30 August.
Initially dismissed by the mainstream media as an add-on to the 2016 federal election campaign, Bill Shorten’s commitment to a royal commission into the Australian banking system remains an unstoppable momentum.
There is a slight possibility that dissident members of the National Party might support the inquiry in the House of Representatives.
The best option is a more broadly-based senate inquiry into aspects of the banking and financial system which LNP dissidents would not dare to entertain. Consideration must also be given to mechanisms for systematic tax evasion by wealthy families and companies which are robbing the ATO of billions in unpaid taxation.
Whilst outrageous bank profits, salaries for CEO’s and indiscriminate bank charges are legitimate causes of concern, it is the detachment of the banking system from a commitment to the diversification of the Australian economy and the protection of living standards which is fundamentally more important.
In the traditions of the Commonwealth Bank, key components of the banking system were vitally interested in supporting national development and infrastructure projects, particularly in regional areas. These commitments continued after the establishment of the Reserve Bank in 1959 when the Australian Resources Development Bank also supported major infrastructure and commercial investment projects.
The social market model of national development ended with the Commonwealth Bank’s full privatization in 1996. All state owned banks and financial institutions like Suncorp in Queensland were privatized in deference to national competition legislation to the absolute delight of the federal LNP during the Howard era.
Australian banking drifted back to its traditional profit making focus for the benefit of the business sector and larger corporations.
As the mining boom recedes, doubts must emerge about sustainability of Australia’s return to an increasingly colonial style of finance which facilitates multinational control of Australia despite its emergence as the world’s twelfth largest economy under a social market system.
This corporate endeavour requires minimal government involvement as the commanding heights of the economy are delivered by the private sector. Costs are routinely passed onto consumers through quisi-corporate taxation regimes levied through prices for commodities and services as well as the familiar outrageous tollway charges or parking fees and food prices at privatized airports.
Eyewitness news coverage largely overlooks the corporate battles for control of Australian infrastructure which skirt the legal limits of guidelines established by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Just this week the rail transportation assets of Asciano were subjected to a $9.05 billion take-over offer from Qube Holdings and the Canadian-based Brookfield Infrastructure with the support of international venture capital funds.
The brave new world of the Turnbull Government welcomes such corporate acquisition games with transport assets that were once proudly within the unionized government sector.
Just another take-over: Asciano’s rail installations for corporate acquisition
The matrix of corporate game plans is so intricate that only a senate inquiry will reveal the implications for the sustainable economic development of Australia by looking at investment alternatives in other middle-sized developed economies.
As the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches, numerous social market challenges to the LNP’s steadfast market ideology provide good reading.
Critiques of contemporary financialization from Yanis Varoufakis, Noam Chomsky, Joseph Stigglitz, Dani Rodrik and others are often available on the internet. Activists can recommend the titles for local libraries in print and e.book formats.
In the meantime, the federal LNP is working on its own plans to sell more government assets, to manipulate its low interest rate regimes, to cut corporate taxes and to keep the government sector to less than 25 per cent of GDP.
Objectively, this old LNP market ideology is already in its twilight years. There are emergent problems facing the Australian economy in the post-resources boom which will not lessen through repetition of three word slogans.
Progressive senators have the inquiry processes and the resources to question the LNP’s market ideology and its consequences for Australia.
Best practice in development economics is vital to Australians at home and abroad in relationships with struggling Pacific neighbours like PNG which has been burdened by the federal LNP’s ghastly Pacific solution to our legitimate refugee challenges in this troubled globalized social reality.
Denis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in developing pragmatic public policies for a contemporary social market that is quite compatible with existing globalization trends.