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Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Page: 9834

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (12:09): I think we're going round and round in circles now. The government has been very up-front, right from the word go. In fact, in our second reading speech and again in the summing up speech today, I made the point that the whole purpose of this one-stop shop proposal through the Australian Financial Complaints Authority is to ensure that consumers and small businesses have access to free, fast and binding dispute resolution, and it's of course part of the government's broader commitment to ensure that consumers and small business can have any legitimate grievances against banks or financial institutions more generally resolved in a timely, efficient and conclusive manner. The purpose is not to replicate a parallel judicial structure. So the intention is for this to offer an avenue for consumers and small business to get access to a free and very efficient dispute resolution process. Obviously, the aspiration is that this dispute resolution process will be effective in resolving all legitimate disputes.

I would, again, say that the overwhelming majority of submissions to the Ramsay review supported this approach and expressed concern about the proposal to persist with a statutory tribunal because it would be too legalistic, inflexible and costly, delivering worse outcomes for consumers. That includes key consumer groups, including the Consumer Action Law Centre, the Financial Rights Legal Centre and Financial Counselling Australia. They have all indicated that their primary position remains that the best framework for dispute resolution in the financial system is a single industry ombudsman scheme for all disputes, including superannuation disputes. As far as access to the Federal Court is concerned, that is a matter of the usual processes applying.