Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Corporations Amendment (Streamlining of Future of Financial Advice) Bill 2014; Second Reading
I rise to speak on the Corporations Amendment (Streamlining of Future of Financial Advice) Bill 2014. What a difference a day makes. In the Senate yesterday Senator Wong put on an academy-award-winning performance about the Greens doing a deal with the government over a water register and an agricultural land register. The Greens have played a very important role in this debate in this country in recent times. I was part of the Senate inquiry into the FoFA changes and played an active role in the allowance motions. But today we have been given 40 minutes notice to look at the detail of what is a very complex subject. We have been given 40 minutes notice to look at a number of changes to the bill. We have seen a number of measures in the bill removed. We have seen amendments to the bill—some minor but some very technical. We have seen a set of legislation that is a totally different from what we have been debating in this parliament in recent months. So Labor are happy to come in here and lambast the Greens and the government for doing a deal, but today they are doing exactly the same thing.
It is disappointing that we were not given more of a heads-up so that we could at least have a closer look at this detail. I do not have anything to speak on because I have not had a chance to look at it—and nor have Senator Xenophon or Senator Madigan; they both had to drop off the speakers list because they have had no time to prepare for this. It is really quite pathetic, considering how important this legislation is. But let me say that Labor have done a lot of work on FoFA in the last three or four years. It is their law and the measures we are debating here today have been put into parliament by the Labor Party over a long period of time. They rightly should play an active role in this legislation and any changes go forward. I recognise that and I want to get that on the record. But it is disrespectful to the rest of us in the Senate that we have had no time to look at this. We have had no time to consider it. We have had no time to get legal advice on it. We have had no time to speak to stakeholders about it. In my opinion, this is a very direct attempt to cut us out of the debate. On that basis, the Greens do want to participate and we will ask some questions in the committee stage so that we can get some answers on this.
These laws are critically important. We have seen a number of scandals in financial advice in this country in recent years. A lot of things have come to the surface and there has been a lot of murky water. The legislation that we are dealing with today is absolutely crucial to restoring the 'advice' back into the financial advice industry and getting more Australians to seek financial advice. I think that is a good thing. The more Australians educated around the potential risks and opportunities in financial advice the better. We want to see a financial advice industry that transitions to being a lot more professional and accredited with higher standards. And I think that is what the industry wants. This legislation is critically important to restoring faith and confidence in the financial advice industry and helping the industry to prosper and boom.
I have worked with the FoFA committee stage. I have worked with a number of financial planners in my home state of Tasmania. This is something I have taken very seriously. I am really disappointed that we have had 40 minutes notice on what is before us today and we have not had a chance to consider it. The Senate is a house for reviewing legislation, but that is not going to be possible today because we have not had a heads-up.