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Aussie PM expresses "regret" over opposing financial sector inquiry
Last Updated: 2018-09-13 13:09 | Xinhua
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Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologized for opposing an explosive royal commission into the nation's banks during his time as treasurer.

Morrison, who served as treasurer from September 2015 until he became prime minister in late August, voted against the opposition Australian Labor Party's attempts to establish an inquiry into Australia's banks 26 times, labelling it a "populist whinge."

However, amid shocking revelations from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, which the government established under intense pressure to do so in December 2017, he admitted that he regrets that "we didn't do it earlier."

"The problem that needed to be addressed was the hurt people were feeling as a result of the banking and financial sector," Morrison told parliament.

The commission heard on Monday that ClearView Wealth, the first insurance company to appear before the inquest, broke the law up to 300,000 times by cold calling people to sell life insurance policies.

Commissioners heard that the company intentionally targeted poor and disadvantaged people.

Josh Frydenberg, Morrison's successor as treasurer, said that ClearView's misconduct would lead to stronger penalties being introduced for insurance companies.

"The ClearView experience and the 300,000 alleged breaches (of criminal law) for providing unsolicited advice was clearly wrong," he said.

In a case involving another company, Freedom Insurance, the father of a 26-year-old with Down syndrome was called a "bloody whinger" by an agent after trying to cancel his son's policy, which was sold illegally.

While investigating the banking sector, the commission uncovered evidence of Australia's big four banks charging fees to dead customers and charging fees for services it never delivered.

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