YOUR HIP POCKET

Herald Sun - - BUSINESS - with Ka­rina Bar­ry­more ka­rina.bar­ry­more@news.com.au

MANDA­TORY re­port­ing. I’m just go­ing to put it out there. No beat­ing about the bush. No po­lit­i­cally cor­rect or in­cor­rect mus­ings.

I want all fi­nan­cial ser­vice providers and staff to be placed un­der manda­tory re­port­ing laws.

That means they’ll be com­pelled by law to re­port “sus­pected” fi­nan­cial abuse or mis­con­duct.

That means they’ll be per­son­ally li­able and ac­count­able for keep­ing “mum” or turn­ing a blind eye, ei­ther be­cause they were co­erced with bonuses or bul­lied in to let­ting the bad be­hav­iour con­tinue.

That means they’ll lose their jobs, rep­u­ta­tions, pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions and face crim­i­nal charges if they don’t re­port sus­pected mis­con­duct.

If we had manda­tory re­port­ing across all fi­nan­cial ser­vice providers we would not have the cur­rent wide­spread cor­rup­tion and dis­hon­esty within our bank­ing and fi­nance com­pa­nies.

We would not have the thou­sands of front­line staff tarred and cor­rupted by as­so­ci­a­tion through their man­agers and board­rooms.

If we had manda­tory re­port­ing, then the crim­i­nal be­hav­iour, the dev­as­tat­ing in­ter­gen­er­a­tional fi­nan­cial dam­age, the sui­cides and the bank­rupt­cies caused by this mis­con­duct could have been avoided.

Fam­i­lies could still be in their homes, busi­nesses op­er­at­ing and in­surance pay­outs re­ceived.

Un­for­tu­nately, it has been the cor­po­rate cul­ture com­ing out of boards that has en­cour­aged and al­lowed the un­eth­i­cal be­hav­iour to flour­ish. And the word quickly spread through­out these or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The lack of ethics also ap­pears to have be­come en­trenched at the floor level, the back of­fices, the front coun­ters, mid­dle man­age­ment and up­per man­age­ment.

Most, if not all fi­nance em­ploy­ees would have come in to con­tact with the vic­tims of their or­gan­i­sa­tions’ dis­hon­esty.

Thou­sands of em­ploy­ees would have been aware of the com­plaints and plead­ings and ex­haus­tion of their cus­tomers as they con­tin­ued to be abused and ripped off. Yet they turned a blind eye.

To para­phrase a well known say­ing: Evil is al­lowed to tri­umph when good men do noth­ing.

Manda­tory re­port­ing of sus­pected and po­ten­tial fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct will help stop peo­ple turn­ing a blind eye.

It will give them ad­di­tional le­git­i­macy for speak­ing out and the courage to break away from the rot­ten cor­po­rate cul­ture they have had to work un­der.

But, hey, why stop at the fi­nan­cial sec­tor; what about the aged-care in­dus­try?

How have we got to the point in our so­ci­ety that abuse of frail and vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple goes un­re­ported by peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions choos­ing to look the other way? Peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions that are mak­ing a fi­nan­cial gain from not re­port­ing this be­hav­iour.

Or the sports sec­tor — ball tam­per­ing, dodgy shoul­der charges, drug cheats.

As a so­ci­ety we are pre­pared to let some peo­ple “get off” or con­tinue their dis­hon­esty be­cause we like them or we might per­son­ally gain. We want our team to win, our sports hero to be num­ber one or a big­ger pay­out from a bet.

Or even par­lia­ment. Why is it min­is­ters and those in the know will turn a blind eye when it suits them? Why wasn’t Peter Dut­ton’s el­i­gi­bil­ity to be in par­lia­ment chal­lenged be­fore he tried to take the top job from Mal­colm Turn­bull? Why wasn’t his in­volve­ment in mi­gra­tion de­ci­sions raised months if not years ear­lier?

Hon­esty and ethics are not be op­tional.

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