The Nationals Senator for New South Wales John Williams has called on all financial institutions including banks, superannuation and insurance companies to publicly state they will waive legal action if customers and former employees wish to reveal details of confidential agreements to the banking Royal Commission.
Senator Williams has commended the National Australia Bank which was the first to give its customers the green light to reveal all to the Commission.
In a statement the bank said it will waive any confidentiality obligations agreed to between customers and the bank, because it is important they are supported in their evidence to the Commission.
Senator Williams has called on the Australian Bankers’ Association to encourage its members to follow NAB’s lead.
Senator Williams met with the Attorney-General this week to express his concern that under its present powers the Commission, unlike Federal parliamentary inquiries, cannot give protection to people who disclose details of confidential agreements, commonly called gag orders.
Senator Williams has previously been told by the Commission that “At this stage of the inquiry, we would not want individuals to provide information that may be in breach of legal obligations by voluntarily providing such information.”
He said this will scare off many people from making a submission and potentially giving evidence about agreements they may have signed under duress or are heavily weighted in the bank’s favour.
“For years there have been demands for a Royal Commission into misconduct in the financial sector and now that the government has established it, all cards should be on the table.
It cannot be shackled by uncertainty, so today I am calling on all the banks, superannuation companies and those in the financial services industry to reassure their clients that they will not face legal action if they provide details of non-disclosure agreements”, Senator Williams said.