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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7898


Senator BUCKLAND (2:18 PM) —My question is to Senator Coonan, Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer. As 72 per cent of Australia's top 50 financial planner groups are wholly or partially owned by major financial institutions, how can the minister assure consumers that advice provided by these planners is genuinely independent?


Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) —I thank Senator Buckland for the question. The answer of course comes back to the Financial Services Reform Act and to the very extensive regime that has been implemented by the parliament to ensure that disclosure is transparent and that all the indicia of independence are set out in the Financial Services Reform Act. It is a shame that when the regulations came before the House—particularly in respect of setting out with greater particularity the requirements of superannuation funds for disclosure for those who wish to purchase financial products, particularly superannuation products—the Labor Party voted the regulations down. It ill behoves Senator Buckland to be suggesting that there is some real problem in relation to identifying ways to ensure that analysts are independent when the Financial Services Reform Act sets out a comprehensive regime. And when further attempts to elucidate and to give particularity to what would need to be disclosed to ensure the independence of advice was put forward in regulations, the Labor Party voted them down.

If Senator Buckland has a concern about being able to ensure that analysts' independence is transparent and fair and that those who deal with them can deal with them fairly and transparently, he should not have been a party to voting down the regulations and he should be doing everything he possibly can to ensure that Senator Sherry and all those on the other side pass the government's legislation on choice. That will do more than anything else to ensure that all the financial planners and all the funds concentrate very clearly on providing adequate advice to those who wish to buy products. The Financial Services Reform Act provides a very comprehensive review. We thought that some particularity could add to it, but in those circumstance it was completely thwarted by the irresponsible attitude of the Labor Party.


Senator BUCKLAND —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. What is the Assistant Treasurer doing to address the problem of commission based selling by financial planners that will be significantly greater under her deregulated so-called superannuation choice model?


Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) —Thank you for the supplementary question, Senator Buckland. The very simple answer to that—I do not know how to explain it any more adequately to you—is the word `disclosure'. The word `disclosure' says it all, Senator Buckland. It will ensure that trailing commissions and any other fees and charges can be adequately disclosed and that analyst independence and the fairness and transparency of advice that is given can be ensured.