Socialist candidate: We need a royal commission into the banking industry

Peter Boyle.

The Turnbull Coalition government must call a full royal commission into CommInsure, the Commonwealth Bank and the general financial malpractices of the insurance and banking industry immediately.

This Coalition government wasted more than $50 million in taxpayers' funds on the royal commission into the union movement, but adamantly refuses to hold a proper inquiry into its big business mates in the major banks.

The trade union royal commission uncovered some relatively minor corruption involving a few union officials, which could have been better handled by the police. But it focused mainly on a political attack on the unions aimed at crippling their ability to do their job of protecting workers' rights and conditions.

The recent ABC Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigations into CommInsure reveal blatant malpractice and corruption on a wide scale in the Commonwealth Bank's insurance arm. The evidence by whistleblower Dr Benjamin Koh that medical records were removed from files, and that CommInsure doctors were ordered to change medical assessments that would have led to insurance pay-outs by the company, are open allegations of criminal behaviour within CommInsure.

CommInsure also used obsolete measures to deny policy holders' legitimate claims on life insurance and even denied claims by their own former employees to compensation payments. This reflects a culture of gross inhumanity and greed.

Following previous revelations of malpractice within the Commonwealth Bank's financial planning arm, the government blocked any attempt to hold a royal commission into the financial planning industry. Hundreds of small investors lost their life savings out of this and earlier scandals involving the CBA and the other Big Four banks.

It is clearly one rule for the rich — banks — and another for the poor — unions and workers — when it comes to this government and its policies on behalf of the 1%. It's time now for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call a royal commission into the insurance and banking industry. Only that has the power to force senior bank officials to tell the truth about these matters.

The CommInsure scandal is just the latest of a series to hit the Commonwealth Bank and its subsidiaries, as well as the ANZ and others of the Big Four. Australia's Big Four are among the most profitable banks in the world, making billions of dollars in profits by ripping off their customers and the general public.

The CBA was a publicly owned bank two decades ago. It should never have been privatised in the first place. Now these scandals provide further proof that the CBA, and the other members of the Big Four, should be taken back into public hands, placed under workers' and community control, and run in the interests of the public and the environment.

[Peter Boyle is the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the federal elections. To help out the campaign get in touch with him on 0401 760 577.]

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