July 16, 2014
The Palmer United Party is currently using its balance of power in the Senate moment to frustrate the Abbott Government. The rationale for this strategy, as Jack Waterford points out is:
is to attract the ultimate loyalty of 14 per cent of the vote, not 50 per cent. Every unsuccessful measure or rejection of some Coalition attempt to pander to one of its lobbies, such as the big banks, reinforces the government's unpopularity and increases Palmer's popularity and scrapbook.
I think that Waterford goes too far. Sure, Palmer is creating maximum drama but so far he ends up supporting the Coalition after extracting minimal cobbled-together concessions during chaotic backroom meetings from which all stakeholders are excluded.
A good example is Palmer's wheeling and dealing over the Coalition's attempts to roll back Labor's financial advice reforms so as to favour the interest of finance capital at the expense of consumers. Palmer sided with the Coalition and the minor amendments make little difference to ensure consumer protection.
In doing so PUP didn't wait to consider the interim report into the financial system in the context of financial scandals, corruption and fraud by the finance industry that caused so much damage to the welfare of millions of Australian households; as well as a Senate inquiry that was highly critical of the financial planning operations of the Commonwealth Bank.
PUP, in other words, rolled over, rather than standing their public ground. They didn't even consider separating banking from distribution or financial planning advice in terms of ownership and control given that 80% of the financial advice industry is now linked with banks; and that the financial advisors are just pushing bank products for a fee. These financial advisers have a substantial conflict of interest – the interests of their employer are at odds with the interests of their clients.
PUP has sided withe Coalition in ensuring that financial advisers work for the interest of their employer --the Big Banks-- not for their clients. The government’s financial advice changes allow incentives for financial planners to push inappropriate investments products on consumers.