Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Consumers First—Establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) Bill 2017

Consumer advocates are very supportive of the move to a one-stop shop external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme that implements the considered recommendations of the Review of the Financial System External Dispute Resolution and Complaints Framework (the Ramsay Review). The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) can build on the success of the existing system for EDR, and extend the benefits of EDR to superannuation customers for the first time.

Six consumer groups made a joint submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the legislation establishing AFCA. This joint submission is broadly supportive of the legislation but recommends some minor technical amendments to the Bill, including to:

  • require an independent chair of the AFCA board;
  • require AFCA to monitor and address systemic issues, in addition to referring such matters to regulators;
  • require AFCA to refer certain matters to other relevant authorities or industry code monitoring committees;
  • give AFCA power to compel information or documents;
  • require membership for debt management firms including debt agreement administrators, and permit voluntary membership.

This submission also responds to some of the matters announced in the Government’s response to Treasury’s consultation on the exposure draft legislation, including:

  • the monetary limits and compensation caps;
  • decision-making criteria;
  • exclusions from jurisdiction; and
  • referral of complaints back to internal dispute resolution.

Read the full submission here [pdf].

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