Noely Neate discusses PM Malcolm Turnbull's "political mistake" and the lack of media scrutiny concerning his Government's long-held opposition to a banking Royal Commission and its many connections to the finance industry.
THE Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is not exactly going to plan.
The media are now chasing the Turnbull Government for an apology for fighting this Royal Commission for so long.
Finally, on Monday (23 April), Prime Minister Turnbull admitted that yes, he is sorry — sorry he made a "political mistake"! Yep. Turnbull is not sorry punters have been screwed over by banks and financial institutions, and that this should have been addressed two years ago, just sorry he looks bad now.
Prime Minister Turnbull admits "political" mistake (source: @9NewsSyd).
Though to be fair, the PM is probably also sorry his old mates in the banking sector didn’t hide their malfeasance well enough and that they have been publicly pinged. I’d also say he is sorry he is paying all these useless spin doctors who could not even come up with a decent communications strategy to combat the calls for an apology.
Besides O’Dwyer making an utter drip of herself, it was right up there with Monty Python ridiculousness; in my opinion, she was actually lucky Cassidy didn’t go down the Trade Union Royal Commission route.
This difference in reporting between the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (#TURC ) and the Financial Services Royal Commission (#banksrc) and the questions put to politicians by the media is really frustrating.
Take Ms O’Dwyer for example:
- Kelly O’Dwyer is the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services;
- She was an executive at National Australia Bank;
- As late as 2016, Ms O’Dwyer still had close connections with NAB, including its hosting a $1,200 to $2,500-a-table breakfast fundraiser for her election campaign;
- O'Dwyer's husband, *Jon Mant, is an executive director at UBS — the massive financial services and investment firm.
(*I’m not a fan of bringing the family of politicians into discussions; this has only been done for the purpose of comparison with Labor Member for Gorton Brendan O’Connor’s SKY interview with Kieran Gilbert on Monday (23 April), where his family was mentioned in the context of political policy.)
Now looking at the above – keep in mind #TURC, where every Labor Party person interviewed had their "relationship" with a union raised by media – O’Dwyer has some very close connections to the banking and financial industry and, in my opinion, got off very lightly.
Let’s flip this scenario. How do you think media would be reacting if Ms O’Dwyer was an ALP minister responsible for industrial relations who spent two years trying to fight off a royal commission into the unions — unions where she used to work, from which she still received political donations and for whom her partner still worked?
Yeah … same could be said for Mr Turnbull. Yet for some reason, these connections are not being made.
I have raised this issue before and it has always really bothered me how certain organisations or institutions seem to garner more respect in the media than others.
A few journos I have raised this with seem to be insulted that I would impugn a government minister by suggesting their connections to a bank would influence their decision-making processes. Yet, these same journalists were – and still are – linking Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to unions and suggesting this harms him and that he is somehow a less independent politician due to this connection.
Considering his banking connections, particularly in light of him working so hard to stop any scrutiny of these banks and the shipload of extra taxpayer cash with his proposed corporate tax cut, why are we not seeing similar treatment of Malcolm Turnbull?
Surely taking both of those scenarios into account makes any suggestion of union influence on an opposition leader pale in significance?
I seriously doubt there has been more malfeasance or harm caused to citizens by unions than what is currently being revealed about our corporate finance sector, so why is the media narrative, "unions = bad and corporate = good"? Why is a connection to a union considered "damaging", yet a connection to a bank not even mentioned?
Just yesterday (23 April), I watched as Kieran Gilbert suggested to Labor Member for Gorton Brendan O’Connor that it would be hard to "say no to your brother" (CFMEU boss Michael O'Connor). Seriously?! I nearly spat my coffee on the keyboard. The Labor Party is not even in government, yet political commentators are talking about a "potential" government minister maybe being influenced in his decision-making ability in industrial relations policy due to his brother being the head of a union?
I’ve never once seen an interviewer suggest an issue with Ms O’Dwyer's husband being in the finance sector, nor Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann’s wife working for the firm that might have "potentially" helped AMP hide stuff from ASIC. Nor Turnbull being an ex-banker and dining with bank CEOs. Yet these people are in Government, they are in power, they did fight off the #BanksRC and – when it comes to connections to the banking and finance world – they are only the tip of the iceberg as far as the Coalition and big business backgrounds and connections.
I’m not even sure many in the media are aware they are even doing this. Or at least, I hope it is an unconscious bias. If it isn’t, we are well and truly stuffed as it is more than just News Corp advancing these sorts of attitudes.
So, this is what I am personally sorry about. I’m sorry that we seem to have a society that values white-collar work over blue-collar work. I’m sorry we have a media that seems to be indoctrinated in these same "values". I’m sorry that wealth seems to be valued over work. Finally, I’m sorry for all those victims (and the ones to come) of financial sector misdeeds due to our ever-increasing worship of the almighty dollar, encouraged by governments of all flavours here in this nation.
Let’s hope this #BanksRC doesn’t squib and some real changes are made. Personally, I’m not so confident, but in the meantime, regardless of your political slant, please respect that we are supposed to be an egalitarian nation and call out those getting "special" treatment. The wealthy, white-collar workers or religious do not deserve any more respect in society than the vulnerable, blue-collar workers or secular. Demand better when you see this interpretation in media and politics — if we allow this perception to continue and get worse, we will be bloody sorry!
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