AFCA Bill stalled in House until at least February 2018

The Bill to create the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is stalled in the House of Representatives until at least February next year.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Consumers First—Establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) Bill 2017 passed the Senate in the last sitting week of the year. But the Bill had been introduced to the Senate first, and had been amended, and so needed to go to the House to be voted on. But this didn’t happen before the end of the 2017 sittings, with it being made an order of the day for the next sitting. Parliament is next scheduled to sit on 5 February 2015. It is unclear if and how this timetable will impact the planned commencement date of 1 July 2018.

“AFCA will commence operation in the second half of 2018 and will replace the existing Financial Ombudsman Service, Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal,” said Minster for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer.

“Sadly, Labor and the Greens sought to defeat these important reforms by moving amendments to exclude superannuation disputes from AFCA’s remit. Fortunately, with the support of the crossbenchers who voted against Labor’s amendments, the Government was able to put Australian consumers and small businesses first.”

“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.”

“The Bill was 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. These changes respond to key issues raised by stakeholders in submissions to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee and crossbench Senators.”

“I encourage all interested parties to continue to engage with Dr Edey and the Transition Team who are overseeing the transition from the existing schemes to AFCA. Continued engagement will ensure that AFCA will provide better outcomes for consumers, while being accountable to all stakeholders,” said Minister O’Dwyer.

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