A key witness has collapsed in the stand at the banking royal commission in Australia after being accused of lying.

Dover Financial Services sole owner Terry McMaster had been giving evidence to the commission for more than two hours when he began to breathe heavily and lose colour in his face.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC immediately demanded he receive help and emergency services be called before clearing the hearing room.

McMaster was tended to inside the hearing room and then was stretchered outside.


He was conscious when he was put inside an ambulance outside the Federal Court in Melbourne.

The financial services boss was having a heated exchange with lawyers when he began breathing heavily.

According to The Australian, one onlooker said McMaster turned "white as a sheet" when counsellors suggested the policy was poor financial advice.

Moments before he collapsed, Commissioner Hayne suggested McMaster's "Dover Client Protection Policy" actually did the opposite of protecting clients and was more about protecting his company. He also suggested the policy breached the Corporations Act.

Counsellor assisting the royal commission, Mark Costello, suggested it had been developed so the company could completely avoid liability for any mistakes or misdeeds made by their financial planner.

During an intense interrogation, Costello made McMaster agree the policy was "Orwellian".

"I put it to you, it is Orwellian to describe this as a client protection policy," Costello said.

"I agree with that and of course this has been changed," he replied.

An ambulance was called to the scene when McMaster collapsed. Photo/News.com.au.
An ambulance was called to the scene when McMaster collapsed. Photo/News.com.au.

Costello said the policy was "completely consistent with a culture where client complaints are to be fought at all cost".

When counsellors asked McMaster if his company's attitude was to seek the highest level of protection from liability, the financial services boss agreed.

"Does it then follow that the document is itself misleading or deceptive? If it were misleading or deceptive it might draw attention to relevant provision of the ASIC Act," Commissioner Hayne said, after interrupting the proceedings.

The court proceedings also showed that Dover was the only large financial advice licensee in Australia that declined to respond to the royal commission's request for information about misconduct.

The Melbourne business is the 10th largest licensee in the country and employs more than 400 planners.

Costello said McMaster's description of the "protection" policy was "simply untrue", but the financial planner disagreed.

"In that rejection, I've certainly understood and regretted the use of the word 'protection'. That's obviously been changed," he said.

McMaster's collapse came in the second week of the royal commission, which last week claimed the scalp of AMP chief executive Craig Meller, who resigned after revelations about the firm during the inquiry.

Read more: AMP CEO apologises and quits after Australian conduct inquiry

Earlier today, financial planner Sam Henderson was forced to take the stand despite attempting to get out of the grilling through his celebrity "financial guru" status.

Henderson claimed his participation could damage his reputation but the inquiry went ahead regardless where he was grilled about advice that would have cost a Fair Work commissioner $500,000 in superannuation.

The commission heard Henderson — who makes regular media appearances — asked the Financial Planning Association to keep Donna McKenna's complaint confidential because of his media presence.

The FPA agreed not to publish his name but its conduct review commission rejected the proposed sanctions and suggested Henderson be banned from any media appearances for a year.

- News.com.au