The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, also known as the Hayne Royal Commission and more commonly the Banking Royal Commission, was established on the 14th of December 2017 by the Liberal Turnbull government.
The commission reviewed over 10,000 public submissions and conducted 7 rounds of public hearings over 68 days. The commissioner, Kenneth Hayne, submitted the final report on the 1st of February 2019. The report tabled 76 separate recommendations to address issues within the financial sector. Almost $20 million was added to the share value of Australia's Big 4 Banks in the week following the release of the report.
In 2016 then-opposition leader, Bill Shorten, declared the establishment of a royal commission into Australia's banks and financial service providers as an election promise leading up to the 2016 Federal Election. He also spoke in parliament regarding the Liberal government's lack of support for Labor's proposals to better regulate Australia's financial services sector:
"Every time there was a vote in the previous parliament, 2010 to 2013, every time. Not once, not twice, but on 21 separate occasions, these cowards and defenders for malfeasance in the financial services sector voted against Labor reforms."
Mr. Shorten also spoke to the harms caused by Australian banks and the government's apathy towards the financial sector:
"There is a pathology in our banking and financial services system which is sick. It does not mean that we don't want to see banks do well, but I cannot accept the proposition that the only way our banks can be successful is by leaving a trail of misery. The cost of thousands of people losing their financial services and accounts and poor treatment by banks. The cost is measured not just in the change down the back of the couch at a Liberal Party function. It is real. Divorces, anxiety, depression. And the most common victims are people in their 50s and 60. People on the land. People in small business. People who've paid the school fees, who've worked hard and they wanted to put some money aside for their retirement, and they get no justice and they get ripped off. And then these pale apologies over here, say there's nothing we can do about the banks. They say that a banking Royal Commission will change nothing. Well nothing else has worked. And we've seen this government retreat in an untidy fashion. On 10 April, the Prime Minister says 'nothing to do here, it's all working okay’. 20 April, he then says 'maybe we need to look at giving the regulator more powers'. Then after the election they dream up the idea of a muted parliamentary committee controlled by the party for big banks. And then they propose 'we'll have a tribunal!'. Talk to the victims. The Financial Ombudsman Service can only compensate up to $500,000. They never give awards. The victims of banking and financial scandals are brow beaten into settlements of ten and twenty thousand dollars. And the people here know that! And this is the party who represents the seedy end of financial planning. They will not go to the centre of the issue which is the big banks. There is a business model in this country which puts profits ahead of people. We will never give up on a Royal Commission."
In 2022, in the lead up to the Victorian state election in an opinion piece discussing issues of press freedom, journalist for The Age, Annika Smethurst, suggested that “without meddling journalists, and brave whistleblowers” the royal commission into the banking sector may never have been established.