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‘I knew things were pretty crook’: Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams speaks banking royal commission

Luke Grant

Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams insisted on a royal commission into the banking sector, despite his party’s sustained opposition against the idea.

Now he’s feeling rather vindicated, with the crackdown inquiry exposing a series of shocking misconduct allegations.

“I knew things were pretty crook,” he tells Luke Grant.

“But what I hope comes out of all this is that total confidence can be restored in these institutions.”

The regulator’s “timid” and “shy” approach to banking transgressions has been taken issue with, as Williams looks to revitalise the punitive aspect of the role.

“They were too slow to act, they weren’t severe enough.  I said to the new boss James Shipton, ‘I have a goal that you will be a feared regulator.’ ”

“Do what you have to do and swing the axe. We have to have people in the corporate world fearful of ASIC, APRA and the ACCC. If you live in fear of punishment, you’re not going to do the wrong thing.”

After also speaking on the franchise sector inquiry, Williams went on to reveal his stance on National Party colleague, Barnaby Joyce.

The former deputy prime minister yesterday announced he will recontest the seat of New England at the next election.

“Barnaby is saying he’ll run again. The whole (saga) is very sad and I wish it didn’t happen. But I can’t turn the clock back, I can’t control it,” says Williams.

“I hope time can heal some wounds. He is a very good local member, he has been a great voice for the party and I’m sorry it has turned to this.”

Listen to the full interview below:

Luke Grant