Small business watchdog on the banks’ case in a big way

The Australian, September 7, 2016

Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell has hit the phones and spoken to MPs across the political divide ahead of her inquiry into ­alleged unconscionable behaviour towards small business customers by banks.

Ms Carnell has also clarified “misconceptions” about what powers she has outside of the ­inquiry, saying she cannot stop the banks from foreclosing or repossessing assets. “Royal commission-like powers” will be used to compel a person to appear before hearings and to force banks to produce documents after the government asked the ombudsman to “forensically examine” unacceptable conduct by the banks in a bid to neutralise Bill Shorten’s calls for a banking royal commission.

Ms Carnell will deal solely with cases outlined by the parliamentary joint committee on corporations and financial services but as part of her day-to-day operations she can also look into other cases impacting small businesses.