Submission to the Senate Economics Committee inquiry ‘Competition within the Australian banking sector’

by David Richardson and Richard Denniss

On 28 October 2010 the Senate referred the topic of competition in the banking sector to the Senate Economics Committee for inquiry.

Terms of Reference

Competition within the Australian banking sector, including:

(a) the current level of competition between bank and non-bank providers;

(b) the products available and fees and charges payable on those products;

(c) how competition impacts on unfair terms that may be included in contracts;

(d) the likely drivers of future change and innovation in the banking and non-banking sectors;

(e) the ease of moving between providers of banking services;

(f) the impact of the large banks being considered ‘too big to fail’ on profitability and competition;

(g) regulation that has the impact of restricting or hindering competition within the banking sector, particularly regulation imposed during the global financial crisis;

(h) opportunities for, and obstacles to, the creation of new banking services and the entry of new banking service providers;

(i) assessment of claims by banks of cost of capital;

(j) any other policies, practices and strategies that may enhance competition in banking, including legislative change;

(k) comparisons with relevant international jurisdictions;

(l) the role and impact of past inquiries into the banking sector in promoting reform; and

(m) any other related matter.

This submission argues that the role for government should be much greater than the mere provision of additional information to consumers. In short, government should ensure that banks behave in ways that are consistent with the public interest rather than simply ‘leaving it to the market’.

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