The controversial Royal Commission into Australia’s banking and financial services will get underway on Monday, 12 February, just as a Productivity Commission report decried a lack of competition in the sector.
Launching its initial public hearing at the Fair Work Commission’s Melbourne offices, the Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry will officially get underway.
It will include opening statements from Commissioner Kenneth Hayne as well as senior counsel assisting Rowena Orr.
The Royal Commission was established following a string of allegations made against the major banks, their subsidiaries and other financial institutions, including rate-rigging, widespread misconduct, breaching money-laundering provisions and poor sales practices.
It comes just days after a draft report on the financial system was released by the Productivity Commission, which found that competition in the sector is constrained and lacks strong price rivalry.
“Rivalry through price competition is rarely evident,” the report stated boldly.
It also found that in many areas, particularly the insurance sector, competition is “camouflaged” by different brands owned by just a handful of players, and that product proliferation is “poorly aligned with consumer interests”.
The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA), which represents and advocates on behalf of the nation’s banks, said that it would “carefully analyse” the report and pitch further submissions ahead of the final report.
“The report recognises that we have a strong and dynamic banking system that fosters innovation, such as tap and go payments, safe and quick transfer of funds and quick and easy approvals for loans,” the ABA said in a statement.
“The industry is already undergoing major reform which will address issues identified in this report and others.”
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