Just two days after, again, ruling out a Royal Commission into the banks, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called one.
It comes after a co-incidence of pressure on the government to conduct an inquiry, notably from Turnbull’s own coalition partners, the Nationals, in conjunction with the Greens.
Indeed, the message I have been getting from very senior officials inside banks for the past two weeks is that some form of Inquiry was inevitable.
But the final straw was the bank bosses themselves, writing to Treasurer Scott Morrison calling for an inquiry to clear the air in the banking industry.
It was signed by the CEOs and chairman of each of the big four banks.
The prime minister went one step further, though, and called a Royal Commission.
The distinction between a Parliamentary Inquiry and a Royal Commission is subtle, but important.
The inquiry called for by the Nationals and the Greens had a good chance to pass through the Parliament while Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander are out of the house fighting by-elections.
Such an inquiry would report to the Parliament itself, which Malcolm Turnbull only has precarious hold over.
On the other hand, a Royal Commission reports to the executive arm of the government itself: Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison.
So, after 12 months, the current government has control over the process and the outcome, rather than a splintered Parliament.
That gives the government plenty of time to hand down the findings of such a Royal Commission before the scheduled time of the next federal election – November 2, 2019 – almost a year after the Royal Commission reports.
What the Royal Commission will find is somewhat questionable.
As the banking industry itself has argued, there are already a range of inquiries into the banks from their regulators, ASIC and APRA – along with legal proceedings into the Commonwealth Bank’s alleged Austrac contraventions.
Unlike a Royal Commission, which can recommend legal action, the regulators can take direct legal action themselves, and impose penalties.
There is also the question of time.
Though Malcolm Turnbull is asking the Royal Commission to take 12 months for its findings, there will still be a long time before compensation or restitution is applied to aggrieved customers of the banks.
As a senior National told me the other day, some customers could be dead before they see money after a Royal Commission.
A better question is whether those same bank customers will see their money while Malcolm Turnbull is still prime minister.
I wouldn’t bet on that.
Interviewed Barry O’Sullivan, Senator, Nationals titled ” Is this man responsible for the Royal Commission? .”
Interviewed Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services titled ” Why has the PM back-flipped on a Royal Commission into the banks? .”
Interviewed Martin Fahy, CEO, The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia titled ” Why have Super Funds been dragged into the banking Royal Commission? .”
Interviewed Sharid Jain, S&P Global Ratings titled ” What impact will a Royal Commission have on the banks? .”
Money Minute – November 20 2017 Bank Royal Commission? .
Interviewed John Wacka Williams, Senator titled ” Are we headed for a Royal Commission into Banks? .”
Interviewed John Wacka Williams, Senator titled ” Pressure intensifies for royal commission following CBA laundering allegations .”