Business

Govt open to extending banks commission

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the government would look to extend the banking royal commission if the commissioner requests it.

The Turnbull government would be open to extending the banking royal commission if it is requested by the man overseeing the inquiry.

The commission this week heard what senior ministers are describing as "disturbing" revelations, including that AMP had been charging clients for advice they never received and then repeatedly lied to the corporate watchdog.

"If the royal commissioner (Justice Kenneth Hayne) says to us that there is more work to be done, that he needs more time, then obviously the government would act on that," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told 2GB radio on Thursday.

Under the existing timeline, the commission is due to provide a final report by February 2019.

Treasurer Scott Morrison warned behaviour such as AMP's could attract penalties including jail time.

In a statement ASIC said 'fees for no service' and false or misleading statements had been part of its investigation into AMP, during which it had received many thousands of documents, and resulted in 18 examinations of the company's staff.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce admitted he was wrong to argue against a royal commission.

"What I have heard is (sic) so far is beyond disturbing," he tweeted.

He later questioned whether banks should be broken up to avoid conflicts of interest.

"They should consider whether they should be in the financial planning business after the evidence delivered," he told Fairfax Media.

"It appears from evidence to be too much of a conflict of interest and a temptation for them."

Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer believes financial companies will have work to do to regain the public's trust after the disturbing revelations at the commission.

"It is for them to explain how they are going to regain the trust of their customers," Ms O'Dwyer told ABC radio.

Asked whether she was also wrong to oppose Labor's proposal for such a commission, Ms O'Dwyer said "it is right that we have a broad inquiry".

"The ALP had argued for a very narrow one," she said.

"We are hearing things that would mean that we have done the right thing in introducing a royal commission and we are looking forward the recommendations."

Labor has been quick to point out it had pledged in April 2016 to hold a royal commission into both the banking sector and the financial services industry.

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