23 November 2022

Address to the Customer Owned Banking Association, Parliament House, Canberra


Thank you Elizabeth for the warm welcome and for inviting me here today to your annual Hike the Hill event.

It is great to see COBA here again in Canberra after three years.

I would also like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, the traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to the Elders past, present and emerging.

I reiterate the Albanese Government’s commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a voice to Parliament.

I acknowledge any First Nations Australians with us today and thank them for their contribution.


I wanted to start by acknowledging the great work that customer‑owned banks do for Australians.

Customer owned banks have $160 billion in assets and 5 million customers.

You collectively manage 735 branches across Australia, which of course includes a presence in my own electorate of Whitlam.

With a “people before profit” focus it is no wonder that customer‑owned banks perform so well on customer satisfaction surveys.

They are important to ensuring competition in the banking sector.

And you are valued for the role you play in the communities in which you operate.

The book you’re launching today provides a diverse range of examples of this involvement.

Whether it is partnering with local charities, funding grassroot community projects or helping education children on life saving techniques, Banking with Purpose demonstrates the impact you are having on local communities.

With over 150 years of history, customer‑owned banks are trusted by Australians and represent a vital part of Australia’s banking ecosystem.

Combating scams

This trust cannot be taken for granted.

As recent events have demonstrated, major data breaches of large organisations can shake the trust that Australians have in these organisations to protect their data.

Banks are tempting targets for those who wish to do Australians harm. Recently Westpac reported that they blocked more than 700,000 attack attempts on their internet facing applications in August 2022.

NAB reports that they face 50 million attacks each month.

Along with cyber‑attacks, the banking industry is often the target of scams.

In October the ACCC received the highest number of scams reports for any month in 2022, with around 22,300 reports made and almost $50 million reported lost.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre received over 76,000 cybercrime reports in the 2021/22 Financial Year, an increase of 13 per cent.

Fraud, online shopping, and online banking cybercrime types accounting for 54 per cent of all reports.

And the customer‑owned sector is not immune from this issue, with your sector dealing with, on average, hundreds of thousands of scams attempts per year.

Last year Australians lost at least $2 billion to scams.

This year that is expected to double to $4 billion.

Households and businesses are already struggling with rising inflation.

So it’s more important than ever to protect them from scams and frauds.

There are four important ways we can do more to keep data safe and make it harder for scammers and fraudsters.

Four limbs of protection

The first limb is stopping the flow of private data at source.

Everyday mountains of data is being collected through simple transactions.

Some of it necessary, some of it reasonable, much of it is not.

We should be asking ourselves whether we really need to supply an email address and date of birth just to buy a coffee.

Does a hotel or club need to scan and keep a copy of a driver’s license before we can enter.

The Attorney‑General has already announced a review of the privacy act.

These are questions central to that review, what happens to that data after it is provided?

This is not just a question for Government.

Business should be asking itself the same questions ‑ how much data do we really need to collect from customers?

Better security

The second limb is better security of data once it is collected.

Again - a whole‑of‑government approach is underway.

Clare O’Neil has commissioned the development of a new Cyber Security Strategy.

This will set out the path to a more secure online world for Australian businesses and their customers.

The Minister for Finance – Katy Gallagher is working on Digital ID to improve the process of verification for access to Government services.

We’re also sending a powerful message to business which reflects public expectations on data safety standards.

We’ve introduced legislation that significantly increases penalties for serious or repeated data breaches.

It also gives the Information Commissioner the power to make companies comply with their obligations.

We also need to attack the rise of invoice interception scams.

It’s why we also establishing a roadmap for the rollout of eIinvoicing to provide a secure platform for business to business payments.

Rapid response

The third limb is rapid response to frauds when they emerge.

This requires Government leadership and coordination. This is happening.

It also requires business cooperation.

The response from business leaders has been overwhelmingly positive.

That is important because this is something everyone in the system has to do together.

The experience in the UK and Canada shows safe, rapid and targeted sharing of information and expertise across government, industry, law enforcement and consumer groups is effective.

In the October budget we allocated an initial $10 million to begin setting up the National Anti‑Scam Centre we promised at the election.

The new centre will mean a faster, more comprehensive approach to shutting down emerging scams before they can get a foothold in the community.


The fourth limb is rectification.

We know we’re not going to eliminate scams all together.

But we can limit the ongoing damage to victims by making it easier to get their identity back.

That’s why we’re providing increased funding for identity recovery services in our recent budget.

We’re also working to make it easier for victims to get their government‑issued identity, like passports and drivers’ licenses, back.

We will also have a conversation with banks, financial institutions, telcos and social media platform about further actions to protect consumers.

They will be based on the principle of setting a high bar on industry standards.


This is not a problem that any one sector, government or business can resolve on their own.

The work Government is doing is only one piece of the puzzle.

It will take a collaboration between all of us to ensuring that trust Australians’ place in their financial institutions remains.

So, I look forward to hearing about the work the customer‑owned sector is doing to tackle this issue.

I also hope your time here in Parliament House is productive.

With that I will open the floor for questions.