Local, Independant and Effective

Independents call for mandatory code of conduct for banks

Posted May 04, 2017


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:19): My question is to the member for Denison, under standing order 99. I refer to the private member's bill—order of the day No. 33, relating to the mandatory banking code of conduct—standing in your name. This bill is a great example of why it is important that we have Independent representation in parliament, and demonstrates how we as Independents are representing our communities in this place. Can the minister tell the House when he thinks the debate on the bill will be resumed, and what process is needed for the House to fully consider this bill so this important matter can be fully debated and our communities informed?

The SPEAKER: The question did refer to the minister, but the opening preamble referred to the member, so we will go to the member for Denison. Just before I go to the member for Denison, though, I remind the House of the parameters of the standing order referred to by the member for Indi, which is outlined in Practice, with respect to the Procedure Committee's consideration of these questions, which are that these questions certainly should be allowed—and I will be allowing the question—but the answer needs to confine itself to matters of timing and procedure.

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:21): I thank the member for Indi for her question and also her tireless efforts to represent and to help the good people of the electorate of Indi, particularly when it comes to banking reform, and in fact I acknowledge the good efforts of all of my crossbench colleagues to bring about reform of the banking sector and, in particular, to see a proper inquiry into the banks through either a royal commission or a commission of inquiry.

In regard to the substance of the question and the direction from the Speaker, I am able to inform the House that the Banking Amendment (Establishing an Effective Code of Conduct) Bill 2017 is now before the House. I have in fact moved the second reading, and it is now up to the Selection Committee to decide on the resumption of the debate. I of course am not on the Selection Committee and cannot speak for it, but I would encourage the Selection Committee to allow the resumption of the second reading debate, because this is a matter that is of great interest to all of the community and, I would hope, to all of the members of this House. The fact is that the current banking code of conduct is ineffective. It is written, funded and implemented by the banks, and what we need—

The SPEAKER: The member for Denison will resume his seat. The Leader of the House on a point of order.

Mr Husic interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley is about to not be here to even hear the point of order.

Mr Pyne: Much as I hate to be the Grinch that stole Christmas, there is an important precedent. As you pointed out to the member for Denison, under standing order 99 he has to confine his remarks to the procedures and processes for the carriage of this bill. Now he is straying into the substance of the matter, which is therefore a debating point. Why don't you look up the rules and practices and you will know what the standing order is. You have been here 10 years—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat.

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney is warned. The Manager of Opposition Business, on a point of order?

Mr Burke: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: it would be a long time since the Leader of the House had confined his answers to his own ministerial responsibility. That being the case, it is reasonable to have a level of flexibility in what is one very unusual and rare question.

Ms Burney interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Barton is warned. I have listened to the Manager of Opposition Business. I made clear what the practice is with respect to consideration by the Procedure Committee. I was ready to rule on it, but out of deference I wanted to hear from the Manager of Opposition Business in case he had another point of view to add. Can I say very clearly that I was about to ask the member for Denison to resume his seat. The first part of his answer was completely in order. He has rapidly gone off-road now and he needs to confine himself to the timing and procedure. With respect to the Manager of Opposition Business's point of view, it is a reasonable point of view to put, but he will need to put that to the Procedure Committee. The member for Denison needs to confine himself to the timing and to the procedure—not to what he sees as the merits of his bill, if I can put it that way.

Mr WILKIE: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your guidance on this. Of course, I am very mindful of it. Returning to the issue of—

The SPEAKER: I just say to the member for Denison I do not want to be headmasterly here, but it is not guidance. It is a ruling, and this is not a negotiation. So get the car back on the road or we are going to move on.

Mr WILKIE: Thank you, Speaker. Returning to the issue of process and when we might see the Selection Committee direct that the second reading be continued, I would hope that the Selection Committee is very mindful in its deliberations of the fact that a mirror image of this bill was moved by me five years ago, in 2012, and it received no support from the then Labor government or the then Liberal-National coalition. So I would hope that the Selection Committee this time around would understand that the situation is even more dire, that there is even greater concern in the community about the behaviour of the banks and that there is an urgent need for the issue of the banks' conduct to be dealt with.

Turning again to the issue of process, we talk about a lot of things in this place. The Selection Committee makes a lot of decisions about what will be dealt with in this place, but I would encourage the Selection Committee to be mindful that there is nothing, or very little, more important for us to consider at the moment than the widespread angst in the community about the conduct of the banking sector—and in particular the big four banks—and the need for there to be a mandatory legislated code of conduct that is overseen by the government and the minister—

The SPEAKER: I ask the member for Denison, in the remaining 20 seconds, to come back to the parameters of his answer that I have outlined now twice, or we will need to move on.

Mr WILKIE: In my last 20 seconds, if I can just make the point that, while we do not know when this bill will be dealt with by this place, we should hope for and encourage the Selection Committee to see the merit of the issue that it addresses and the importance of it being brought into this place as soon as possible so we can start the process of reining in the banks.

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