Transcript - Doorstop Interview

MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2019       

SUBJECTS: Government’s failure to implement the Banking Royal Commission Recommendations; Westpac; China.

STEPHEN JONES: There are eight days left in the Parliamentary year and the Government has failed to implement its own lowball target on implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission. They've implemented seven of the 76 recommendations. Outstanding, the recommendations on insurance contracts. They haven't implemented the recommendations to prevent hawking of superannuation and insurance products. They have failed to meet their own lowball targets. It's time for the Government to put priorities where they should be, to be implementing the 76 recommendations that fall upon the Government. In a week when there's yet another scandal affecting the banking industry, this is the time for the Government to be prioritising implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission. We've had another scandal affecting one of our major banks and yet the Government is still dragging its feet on implementing the Hayne Commission recommendations.

JOURNALIST: Should Westpac execs be keeping their jobs?

JONES: I don't think it's the place of Parliament to be telling trade unions who should be running trade unions or banks who should be running their banks. That's the job of the board, but I've got to say this, Westpac has been involved in facilitating paedophilia. There could not be a more serious crime. They're going into an investigation and while the board's looking around to work out who they're going to point fingers at, they should be getting a mirror themselves. AUSTRAC themselves have said this has been a serious failure of governance. It’s not just a management failure, it's a serious failure of governance. So the board should be looking at their own position as well. Both the board and the senior management are in very, very difficult positions. I think they're well out of step with community expectations.

JOURNALIST: You just outlined how serious the allegations are though. Should it be more than a slap on the wrist or just having their wages frozen?

JONES: I don't think a slap on the wrist or having the bonuses frozen is enough. I think the Australian community expects much more of this important banking organisation.

JOURNALIST: Should a former Chinese spy be granted asylum in Australia?

JONES: These are very serious allegations indeed, we're seeking a briefing from the security agencies. I don't think it's helpful if I'm speculating in public ahead of getting those important security briefings.

JOURNALIST: How concerning are reports that there's been an attempt of Chinese influence in our Parliament?

JONES: If these allegations are true, it's incredibly concerning, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's wait until we get a briefing from the security agencies.

JOURNALIST: The Labour movement is saying today why should unions be busted for not filing their paperwork when Westpac CEOs get to keep their jobs. Is that a fair comparison to make between those two issues?

JONES: It really is extraordinary that a union could be deregistered, that a union official could lose their job for three breaches of paper problems. Whereas a bank CEO and the board keep their job after 23 million offenses. There's something pretty wrong here.