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Shorten clearing his desk after months of inaction

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Media Release Senator Mathias Cormann Shadow Assistant Treasurer Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation

12/0623/MC 23 June 2012

Shorten clearing his desk after months of inaction

Bill Shorten seems to be clearing his desk with today’s long delayed announcement of new rules allowing accountants to provide a range of general financial advice to their clients and registration requirements for self-managed super fund auditors.

This follows the introduction earlier this week of legislation to implement the Investment Manager Regime 18 months after it was actually announced.

In February 2012 Bill Shorten said he would make an announcement on the existing accountants’ exemption ‘in the next two weeks’.

Two weeks have turned into four months and it was only after strong criticism from the Coalition and industry bodies that the Minister has finally stopped dragging his feet after months of delay and inaction.

Today’s belated announcement finally outlines proposed new license arrangements to replace the accountants’ exemption and allows accountants to continue to provide general advice including advice on the establishment of self managed super funds.

More details have also finally been provided on the proposed new registration requirements for auditors of self-managed superannuation funds, including requirements for professional qualification, audit experience and a competency exam.

Minister Shorten has brought a new low to Gillard government efforts to avoid scrutiny. Making this announcement, not during the working week or even on a Friday afternoon, but on a Saturday afternoon is clearly an unprecedented attempt to avoid scrutiny after Bill Shorten created two years of unnecessary uncertainty for accountants and their clients.

As always with announcements from this government the devil will be in the detail and the Coalition will consult widely with all stakeholders when Labor eventually releases the regulations giving effect to the changes announced today.

In particular, the Coalition will carefully examine the regulations to ensure that the new licensing requirements would not impose unnecessary additional red tape and costs for small business professional accountants and their clients.

Today we must ask, what is Minister Shorten really thinking about - the best for consumers and practitioners in the financial services sector of Australia, or what job he might hold at the end of next week?

MEDIA CONTACT: Senator Cormann 0411 874 546