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18 Aug

Banking inquiry is no free political kick

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Scott Morrison needs to juggle taking tough action against the banks while not harming the economy.There are political pitfalls stemming from how the coalition and Labor respond to the banking royal commission’s interim report.

Voters have been shocked by the litany of failures by banks, insurers and super funds and will no doubt celebrate action against dodgy executives and salespeople.

They may also lift the Liberal-National coalition’s stocks for taking tough action against the worst wrongdoers, pushing them closer to retaining office.

But there is a risk too-tough action could cut off the flow of credit and undermine institutions which are central to business, delivering a blow to the n economy and risking jobs and investment.

As past federal elections have proven, a strong economy which is seen to be delivering the services and infrastructure voters demand tends to favour the incumbent party.

Good economic managers are rewarded.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have strong reasons to ensure they take up the royal commission’s findings, but don’t go so far as to damage the very financial system on which all ns depend.

As if voters aren’t already disgruntled with the political class, imagine if they suddenly had to wait longer for housing loans to be approved or rejected, couldn’t get access to a credit card or faced higher insurance premiums?

Similarly with Labor, any over-reach or demonisation of the financial sector might play well with some voters.

But coming into government for the first time since 2013 would be a difficult juggle with businesses unable to access to finance, debt-laden families under pressure and young couples pushed even further away from the dream of owning a home.

It could also see more low-income earners look elsewhere for finance, such as the virulently corrupt pay-day lenders Labor so passionately wants to stamp out.

The gap between the haves and have-nots would widen.

Kicking the bankers to death might be an easy thing for short-sighted politicians to do, but it has ramifications.

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