The Government has succeeded in having its Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) legislation pass the Senate despite the strong opposition of the Labor Opposition and the Greens, particularly around winding down the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT).
The legislation was passed with the support of the cross-benchers, prompting the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer to claim it would benefit millions of Australians.
She said the AFCA would commence operation in the second half of next year and would replace the Financial Ombudsman Services (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the SCT.
“AFCA is a landmark reform that will overhaul how financial disputes are dealt with in Australia. It will operate under significantly higher monetary limits and compensation caps. This will provide considerably greater access to redress for consumers and small businesses, and in particular, farmers, who will have access to up to $2 million in compensation under the new AFCA scheme,” she said.
O’Dwyer acknowledged that the bill had been passed with a number of minor amendments moved by the Government to provide additional certainty in relation to the handling of superannuation disputes, to review AFCA’s operations after a period of 18 months from its commencement, and to enshrine in legislation the requirement that the AFCA Chair be independent.
She claimed the changes had responded to key issues raised by stakeholders in submissions to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee and crossbench Senators.
By Mike Taylor
8 December 2017