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Australian Banks Launch Review Of Their Own Rule Book

The Australian Banking Association will review the industry's code of practice as it continues after the royal revelations.

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Banks have flagged tougher industry rules with a major review set to investigate tighter standards two years after the damning banking royal commission.

The voluntary code is a set of promises made by a bank about how it will treat its customers, including when they run into financial difficulties and face eviction from homes and farms.

The royal commission, which handed down its final report in February 2019, sparked court cases and steep fines.

Revelations resulted in stolen money being returned to customers and action on junk products, with executives axed from lucrative posts.

Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh says it’s time for more work on industry standards. Anna Maria Bligh AC is a lobbyist and former Australian politician who served as the 37th Premier of Queensland, in office from 2007 to 2012 as leader of the Labor Party. In 2017, she was appointed chief executive officer of the Australian Banking Association.

Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh said recent updates to the code have incorporated changes recommended by the royal commission. (Paul Braven/AAP Image)

“It is enforceable at law and used as the standard by which the Australian Financial Complaints Authority considers customer complaints against banks, so getting it right really matters,” she said. Bligh said recent updates to the code have incorporated changes recommended by the royal commission.

“This review presents an opportunity to further strengthen the code,” Bligh said.

The Australian Banking Association-commissioned review is due to report its findings by the end of November.

The code is intended to form an important part of the federal government’s broader consumer protections for people using financial services.

Mike Callaghan, a former Treasury deputy secretary and chief of staff to ex-treasurer Peter Costello, will lead the independent review.

Mike Callaghan, a former Treasury deputy secretary said “The focus of the review will be on ensuring that the code meets consumer and community expectations,” (Paul Miller/AAP image)

“The focus of the review will be on ensuring that the code meets consumer and community expectations,” Callaghan said.

He is seeking submissions from consumer groups, small businesses, farmers, governments, regulators, and the public. Mike Callaghan joined the Australian Treasury in 1974 and has held various senior positions, including heading the Economic Division and Financial Institutions Division and being the Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Task Group on International Financial Reform in 1998. He also worked at the International Monetary Fund in the early 1980s.

The review is due to report its findings by the end of November 2021.

The Australian Banking Association, formerly the Australian Bankers’ Association, is the trade association for the Australian banking industry. With its forebears going back to the late 1940s, the Australian Banking Association was founded in 1985 and is based in Sydney, New South Wales.

(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Ritaban Misra)

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