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National banking Ombudsman needed



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CO.•,iMONWEALTH P ARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY

M1CAH

_DEB AL MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND MINISTER ASSISTING THE TREASORER FOR PRICES SENATOR NICK BOLKTJS

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NATIONAL BANKING OMBUDSMAN NEEDED

The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Senator Nick Bolkus, today said that major changes in banking services in Australia, coupled with increased competition in the finance sector, meant there was an increasing need for an independent ombudsman to service the industry.

Senator Bolkus said the issue had been under discussion with the banking industry for the past 12 months and he was pleased that the Aus-tralian Bankers Association would debate the proposal at its executive meeting on May 10.

"Following last week's announcement that the Westpac Banking Corporation was considering its own ombudsman, I have written to the ABA outlining some proprosals for more comprehensive action," said Senator Bolkus.

"I welcome Westpac's initiative, but I do believe it would be better for the industry and consumers if there was an industry-wide ombudsman.

"Such an office to examine customer complaints would have to be truly independent of the banking industry, something which could be difficult under the Westpac proposal."

Senator Bolkus said that such an independent ombudsman was operating in Britain, where it is funded by the industry and has won the support of the industry and consumer groups.

"About one third of all complaints to the British ombudsman relate to electronic funds transfer systems (EFTS), something which is of increasing concern in Australia," said Senator Bolkus.

"An independent ombudsman would address many of those, and other, concerns in the community about banking in Australia."

Senator Bolkus said he hoped to meet with the ABA prior to its executive meeting next month.

Monday, April 10. Canberra.

P ARLIAMENT' HOUSE, CANBERRA, AC.T. 2600 TEL: (062) 77 7380 FAX: (062) 73 4158

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