Treasury consults on AFCA, including how to resolve SCT complaints

Treasury is consulting on the creation of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), including on how to resolve existing Superannuation Complaints Tribunal complaints.

Legislation is currently before the Parliament to create the AFCA, which would replace the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT).

“AFCA is a landmark reform that will overhaul how financial disputes are dealt with in Australia,” said Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer.

“I encourage all interested parties to engage with Dr Edey and the Transition Team to ensure that AFCA provides enhanced access to redress, while being accountable and transparent to both industry and consumers.”

Less than three weeks have been allowed for the consultation, with submissions closing on 20 November.

Labor may oppose the creation of the AFCA. Labor Senators, in a Senate inquiry on the Bill, recommended the SCT remain a separate body. The Senators said the AFCA would leave consumers with less protections than they have under the SCT and described the rest of the new body as “largely a rebranding exercise”.

The SCT, in a submission to the inquiry, said it lacked the budget to resolve existing complaints. One of the discussions questions asked by Treasury is:

What additional arrangements could be put in place to facilitate the transition of complaints that were lodged with the SCT prior to 1 July 2018, but are not yet ‘dealt with’, to be considered by AFCA? At what point could a complaint be considered to be ‘dealt with’ by the SCT?

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Consumers First—Establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) Bill 2017 was last debated in the Senate in mid September. The Senate sits next week, though it is unclear yet if the Bill is set for debate.

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