No need for bank royal commission: government

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Government ministers are lining up to defend financial industry regulators amid Labor calls for a royal commission into the banking sector. Labor, the Greens and some coalition MPs have been agitating for an inquiry in the wake of a series of scandals and investigations involving the Australian financial sector in recent years.

Labor has said a Labor government would establish a royal commission if the coalition didn’t act before the federal election.

But senior government ministers continued to defend the industry on Saturday, saying it already had ample regulation.

Coalition frontbencher Greg Hunt said the sector had a “standing equivalent of a royal commission” in the form of corporate regulator ASIC.

He questioned whether Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was withholding evidence from ASIC to accuse the body of not acting effectively.

“If he isn’t then he should make a case why ASIC is incapable of continuing to do its job,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

Industry Minister Christopher Pyne earlier questioned why Labor didn’t back a royal commission just months ago while saying a royal commission would undermine industry.

“(Mr Shorten) is more than happy to undermine the Australian banking sector.

But Labor frontbencher Richard Marles said a royal commission would uncover what was going on within the financial sector and how governments could resolve the issues.

Labor’s proposed commission, costing about $53 million and lasting two years, would examine:

* Illegal and unethical behaviour in the financial services industry.

* The industry’s duty of care to customers.

* Culture, ethical standards and business structures of financial institutions.

* Whether regulators are well-equipped to identify and prevent illegal and unethical behaviour.

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