Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:12:19): My question is to the minister representing the Assistant Treasurer.
The money laundering scandal that has been engulfing Westpac Banking Corporation has now forced its CEO, Brian Hartzer, and chairman, Lindsey Maxsted, to resign.
The bank has been accused by the financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC of breaching Australia’s money laundering and counterterrorism financing legislation over 23 million times.
Some of these transactions have been shown to involve those involved in child exploitation and sex slavery all over the world.
My question to the minister is: does the Victorian government hold any accounts with Westpac, and if so, will the government cut ties with the bank following these disturbing revelations?
Mr JENNINGS (South Eastern Metropolitan—Leader of the Government, Special Minister of State, Minister for Priority Precincts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) (12:13): Today is a fascinating day for me to cover the range of responsibilities that I have in representing other ministers in this place or speaking on my own behalf, or speaking on my connections with other people.
Nonetheless, in this answer I can confirm that in fact Westpac has an agreement to provide financial services to the state of Victoria. In fact it has had those relationships with the state of Victoria for a number of years.
I can confirm that the Victorian government does expect any supplier of services to comply with the code of conduct that has been in place since 2017—that was ratified in 2017 in its current form—that does have obligations that relate to ethical practice and compliance with the various regulations and other legal requirements and corporate responsibilities of any entity that does business with the state of Victoria. Westpac is subject to those standards.
In relation to the particular matter that you have drawn the chamber’s attention to, the Victorian government is concerned about these matters but in fact will not at this point in time take any premature action until two things occur. One is whether the federal regulator and the courts deal with these matters and make determinations.
That will be clearly a factor about whether the code of conduct has not been complied with. But we are not necessarily waiting for that, and the Assistant Treasurer has written this week to Westpac to ask them to explain their circumstances, the actions that they have taken and whether they have complied with the expectations of the code. The government is awaiting their response and will take actions accordingly