7 December 2016
Media Release - #2016110, 2016

In the role of: Minister for Revenue and Financial Services [19 July 2016 - 28 August 2018]

One-stop mega Ombudsman backed by consumer groups

While consumer groups have welcomed a proposal for a mega ombudsman body to resolve banking and finance disputes and complaints, Labor continues to plays cynical games with people's lives.

The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O'Dwyer said the response to the recommendations of the Ramsay Review’s interim report had been overwhelmingly positive, particularly around the proposal for an one-stop complaints and compensation scheme with the power to resolve disputes in a timely manner.

"I am particularly heartened by the response from consumer groups who deal directly with people who have experienced long-running disputes with banks and institutions that offer financial products," Minister O'Dwyer said.

The Ramsay Review’s draft recommendations have recommended in favour of an external dispute resolution body that will be inexpensive and uncomplicated for consumers and which will reduce the need for ongoing appeals in the courts.

The Review rejected the need for a new statutory tribunal in the finance and banking sector, and was strongly welcomed by the consumer advocates.

Groups that backed the draft recommendations included the Consumer Action Law Centre, the Financial Rights Legal Centre and Financial Counselling Australia.

One consumer advocate said: legalistic tribunal is not the answer – Ombudsman schemes can deliver access to justice and, importantly, take action in relation to systemic issues and serious misconduct in the finance sector. A banking tribunal would do nothing to fix the underlying causes of consumer harm."

"They understand better than anyone that consumers caught up in disputes need a body that will help resolve their issues quickly and without a drawn-out, expensive, and highly legalistic process," Minister O'Dwyer said

"Meanwhile Labor wants to push a process that will take years, will deliver the most financial benefit to lawyers, and will not make any practical difference to those who have complaints about the past conduct of the banks. Royal Commissions cannot make compensation payments.

"The Turnbull Government will consider this interim report and encourages anyone with an interest in this area to make a submission on the recommendations.

"The final report will be provided to the Government at the end of March next year."