Commissioner Kenneth Hayne opened The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry on Monday 12
February, laying out the $75 million inquiry's priorities over the next 12
The commissioner acted judicially as he admonished some of the big banks
for missing submission deadlines, dismissed the enforcing of gag orders and
shared findings uncovered by the commission during its early work.
The first round of hearings – scheduled to take place in approximately one
month – will focus on the credit issues that have so far yielded some of
the highest number of complaints, namely home loans, car loans and credit
The commissioner called into question the scope of misconduct after some of
the big banks failed to meet revised submission deadlines, resulting in
them being filed late or incomplete.
"That a request for details of events of misconduct as defined in the terms
of reference identified during the last five years cannot be met within the
time sought, even though the initial request for that information was made
approximately two months ago, is itself a matter to which further attention
may have to be given," says commissioner Hayne.
He acknowledged the importance of submissions made by individual members of
the public, while also making an appeal for more people to use the recently
introduced online tool on the commission's website.
Of the 385 public submissions filed in the three weeks since it went live,
approximately 84% of the individual submissions relate to misconduct or
behaviour that falls short of community standards.
There were concerns the worst of the behaviour would go unspoken due to the
widespread use of confidentiality agreements. The commissioner quickly
addressed this, saying a "notice or summons would not amount to a
breach of confidentiality or non-disparagement clause", before adding the
commission would be drawn to investigate any information a financial body
tried to suppress.
Senior counsel assisting the commissioner, Rowena Orr, QC, then addressed
the subject of next month's hearing: home loans, car loans and credit
"The commission will hear evidence...in the context of home lending that
suggest that consumers have not always enjoyed the right to be treated
honestly and fairly when it comes to home loans," she said.
"Some of these events may have involved breaches of the law, while others
may have involved departures from community standards and expectations."
She expressed similar sentiments on the subjects of car loans and credit
cards, noting inappropriate or unsuitable lending as an early and emerging
The commission will build upon the 73 recent inquiries and reports from
parliamentary committees, regulators, independent reviewers and expert
panels that are of relevance to its investigation. A date has yet to be
announced for the upcoming hearings that are expected next month.