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Thursday, 1 March 2012
Page: 1375


Senator BOYCE (Queensland) (12:44): On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, I present the report of the committee on the Corporations Amendment (Future of Financial Advice) Bill 2011 and a related bill, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and documents presented to the committee.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator BOYCE: I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

This report was tabled by the chairman of our joint committee, Mr Bernie Ripoll, in the House of Representatives yesterday—and I am told by the secretariat this morning that it has already achieved bestseller status. Given that it is now available online to people in the industry to read, it is very surprising that more than 120 hard copies of this report have been asked for. The reason, of course, is that the legislation proposed by the government has the likelihood of harming the industry. Unsurprisingly, the coalition has tabled a dissenting report which contains 16 recommendations which we believe would fix this area.

The original report actually came out of an inquiry that was held into the problems faced by investors in organisations like Storm Financial and other groups. Their collapse harmed a lot of investors. The report from that inquiry was supported by all sides. I was involved in that inquiry. It was an excellent inquiry that produced some good recommendations. If those recommendations had been taken up by the government in this legislation, I believe that we could very well have come to a unanimous report on the legislation—but, of course, they were not.

This morning when looking for media coverage of our report and the accompanying dissenting report, I was interested to come across an article called 'It boils down to business snubs,' in the Australian Financial Review, written by Jennifer Hewett. I thought, 'Oh, well, that will be another one on the future of financial advice,' but in fact it was not. It starts with the comment:

With few ministerial exceptions, the Gillard government still has no concept of how to manage its relations and its reputation with the business community.

Those comments are around the government's latest subsidy and rebate debacle on the solar hot water issues, but it applies just as well to their behaviour towards the financial planning industry.

The Corporations Amendment (Future of Financial Advice) Bill 2011 would drive up costs and drive down employment in the industry, for no real benefit. The government have set up a situation where they want every financial planning body in the country to re-adapt their systems in time to meet an artificially created time line of July this year—and then, when my super legislation presumably is passed, redo all those systems in time for the 1 July 2013 deadline. This is just yet another example of their inability to understand the needs of business and their inability to implement.

I am hoping to leave time for our shadow spokesperson to speak on this report, so I will cut short my remarks now.