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Sherry launches new Financial Ombudsman Service.

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Senator the Hon Nick Sherry, Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, today launched the Australian Government’s Financial Ombudsman Service.

The new Financial Ombudsman Service brings together three separate external dispute resolution schemes: the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman, the Financial Industry Complaints Service, and the Insurance Ombudsman Service.

“The merger means that independent dispute resolution services for up to 80 per cent of Australian banking, insurance and investment disputes can now be provided under one roof.

This is another example of the Rudd Labor Government’s determination to update the regulation of financial services for the 21st century,” Minister Sherry said.

“The merger means that consumers — or for that matter, industry members who are unsure about where they can get information about dispute resolution — can be quickly referred to the service best suited to handle their complaint.”

External dispute resolution services provide independent, free, fair and accessible dispute resolution for consumers who are unable to resolve a dispute directly with their financial service provider.

“Importantly, external dispute resolution services allow consumers to have complaints that would not normally be brought before a court, due to the cost of legal proceedings, aired and resolved,” Minister Sherry said.

Mergers such as the Financial Ombudsman Service are backed by the Productivity Commission. In its Review of Australia’s Consumer Policy Framework, released on 30 April, the Commission recommended that Australian governments improve the effectiveness of external dispute resolution arrangements for consumers by consolidating existing bodies into a single umbrella scheme.

“Our financial services regime is based on the principles of transparency, fairness and consistency. External dispute resolution schemes like the new Financial Ombudsman Service play an important role in keeping the regime on a level playing field,” Minister Sherry said.

MELBOURNE 10 July, 2008

Contact: Shane May - 0402 958 743

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