A Queensland government senator is confident lower house MPs will cross the floor to support his push for an inquiry into banks which has Labor backing.
Queensland LNP senator Barry O’Sullivan says up to four MPs are considering voting against the government in the House of Representatives to support his private bill to establish a commission of inquiry.
“They show an almost autistic (sic) disregard for prudential regulation and law, and it’s time for these people to have their day in court,” Senator O’Sullivan told ABC radio on Monday.
George Christensen has flagged his intention to cross the floor and fellow Queensland LNP MP Llew O’Brien has rated himself a 50-50 chance to do the same.
Labor wants a royal commission, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accusing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of running a “protection racket” for banks.
“I have no doubt there are coalition members who are frustrated to their back teeth about Mr Turnbull’s lofty, elitist defence of the banks,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.
Senator O’Sullivan believes Liberal Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill has created a new pathway for backbenchers to pursue matters of personal importance.
“I’m simply following along in his footsteps,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
He said millions of Australians had been affected by banks which should be forced to answer to the inquiry.
Cabinet minister Steve Ciobo rejected the renewed push for an inquiry, arguing the government had already taken more immediate action.
“We’ve given more money and more teeth to the banking regulators, in particular to both ASIC and to APRA,” Mr Ciobo told ABC Radio.
Australian Bankers Association chief executive Anna Bligh said the inquiry was an extraordinary and unnecessary step which could cost taxpayers up to $53 million.
“The justification that’s being used publicly for these actions by this group of senators who are seeking revenge for the fact they didn’t get their way in the same-sex marriage debate,” she told ABC radio.
Senator O’Sullivan will introduce the bill to the Senate once the same-sex marriage bill has been dealt with, making it likely to hit parliament before the end of the year.
Unlike a royal commission, a commission of inquiry can be established by and report to the parliament rather than the executive.
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