Numerous opinion polls have been conducted into the level of support by the Australian community for a Royal Commission, which has effectively the same powers and investigatory capacity as a Commission of Inquiry.
A Commission of Inquiry can sometimes be be instigated as an alternative inquiry in circumstances where the executive of the Government refuse to initiate a Royal Commission.
The level of public support for a Royal Commission has been consistently high. The results of a number of public opinion polls are summarised below.
April 2016 – Fairfax-IPSOS Poll
The Fairfax-IPSOS poll found that two-thirds of voters support a Banking Royal Commission. The results are summarised in the following chart:
February 2017 – Essential Media Poll
Essential Media has conducted polls into voter attitudes towards a banking Royal Commission since April 2016, also finding 2/3 of Australians support such an inquiry.
Source: Essential Media (Link here)
October 2016 – The Australia Institute
I don't normally support the work of The Australia Institute but on this issue they are one of the few groups which have conducted an extensive and sound poll into public attitudes towards a Royal Commission into the banks. Again, there was very strong public support for an inquiry in their polling.
Between 16 Sept and 28 Sept the Australia Institute conducted national polling of 1443 people on the regulation and taxation of Australia’s banks.
68 percent of respondents supported a Royal Commission or similar inquiry. Only 16 percent were opposed. Support was similar across states and incomes. Coalition voters were slightly less likely to support a Royal Commission (62 percent).
76 percent agreed that big four banks should put customers ahead of shareholders; 64 percent disagreed that the banks do this. Those with higher incomes were less likely to agree that banks should put their customers first, and were likely to that banks do not put customers first.
77 percent agreed that banks “should have to pass any reductions in the RBA cash rate on to customers”. Only 11 percent disagreed. Major party voters were most likely to agree.
59 percent disagreed that the banks have been truthful about what they knew about scandals revealed by whistleblowers. Greens voters disagreed most.
Should banks be able to own financial planning businesses? More disagreed (44 percent) than agreed (32 percent). Those on lower incomes had the biggest net disagreement (24 percent).
52 percent agreed Malcolm Turnbull is protecting the banks by refusing to call a Royal Commission. Only 21 percent disagreed.
What is the strongest action the government could take against the banks? 42 percent said a Royal Commission. 27 percent nominated a bank tribunal, and only 9 percent said making bank CEOs front an annual government-controlled committee.
Source: The Australia Institute (Link here.)
For a sector predicated upon consumer trust, systemic bank misconduct has severely impacted trust, to such an extent that there is very strong public support for a Royal Commission/Commission of Inquiry into the banking sector.