Today, the Federal Government has introduced legislation for a new one-stop shop for financial and superannuation complaints, to replace the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), Credit & Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT). Once established, this new body should remove inconsistency and confusion in dispute resolution, and make resolving complaints with banks, insurers, super funds and others financial institutions easier.

Consumer Action welcomes the announcement that the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will build upon the existing complaint bodies, rather than there being a competitive selection process for its authorisation. Industry ombudsman schemes have been a hallmark of consumer protection, and it is good that the AFCA legislation adopts the principles of these schemes, including accessibility, independence and fairness. The legislation also confirms that accessing AFCA will be free of charge for complainants, and its determinations will be binding on financial services providers.

Consumer Action encourages the Government and the AFCA Transition Team to work collaboratively and expeditiously with the representatives of the FOS and CIO boards, and representatives of the SCT advisory council, during the transition period. This will give certainty that there will be no disruption to the quality of dispute resolution for the 50,000 new disputes each year that must be managed through the transition period.

Quotes attributable to Gerard Brody, CEO

  • “We’re pleased that the Government is not proceeding with a competitive tender. For a successful transition, the existing EDR schemes and their expert staff must be the backbone of the new Australian Financial Complaints Authority.”
  • “Consultation on the Terms of Reference for the new body should start now. It’s essential that the new body is able to resolve all types of consumer and small business disputes in the finance sector, including resolving systemic issues.”

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Jonathan Brown, media@consumeraction.org.au, 0413 299 567

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