6 April 2016
Transcript - #2016039, 2016

In the role of: Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer [21 September 2015 - 18 July 2016]

Interview with Adam Shand, 6PR

SUBJECTS: $1.2 billion of unclaimed money

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Good afternoon Adam.

ADAM SHAND:

I’m a happy guy, thanks for that.

MINISTER O’DWYER:

I am really pleased you are happy and hopefully there will be 1.3 million Australians who will also be happy when they check the ASIC MoneySmart website because they will find that they have got dormant bank accounts or payouts from life insurance or shares or other investments that haven’t been claimed and that they can get their hands on.

SHAND:

So how has this happened? People just lost track of their money or has this been collected in some effort? How does it work?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

There are time limits when you have had a dormant bank account, usually it is for seven years. If you have not put money in or taken money out that money has been swept up and put into this safe keeping method so that you are able to ensure that you get to keep your money, you can claim it at any point in time.  One of the problems was that under the previous Labor government they cleaned out these accounts in a three year period rather than a seven year period which has been the traditional period of time. And it did mean that, for instance, grandparents who put money aside for their grandchildren and put a fair bit of money in and just let it sit there, found that they were no longer able to access those accounts. Now we have changed that, we have changed it in two ways. One, to take it back to that seven year period and secondly for children’s accounts we are never going to touch those accounts at all because we just don’t think it is right to make changes to those accounts.  But what it does mean for lots of other Australians for whom they have perhaps lost touch with their bank accounts, with their shares, with their investments? It is being safeguarded by the Australian government.  They can log on, they can check out the ASIC MoneySmart website, they can claim it, and it usually takes less than 28 days to claim it from ASIC and then there is a short period of time after which they are then reunited with their money.

SHAND:

That’s great. You do hear - I have had these letters in the past from opportunists, bottom-feeders or whatever who say we found some money that is owed to you, we can’t tell you what it is but if you sign this form and give us 25 per cent then we will give it to you, when people can just go to this website themselves to find such sums.

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Absolutely right, Adam. I would say to those people to disregard that correspondence and to instead go online for free, look it up on ASIC’s MoneySmart website which is www.moneysmart.gov.au  You can look it up for free, you can claim it, it is your money, and in many cases you will also receive some interest as well with that money that is being safeguarded.

SHAND:

At what rate?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Well it is at a pretty basic rate but you know you are better off rather than worse off.

SHAND:

That is true. So how did you go when you checked your name Kelly?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Sadly I have no money there. So there was no windfall for me today when I logged on. But for a few people there will be. And it is really important that it is your money and you should be able to claim it back. There is no period of time that you have to claim it by, you can claim it at any point in time but obviously people want to be reunited with their money sooner rather than later and I encourage people to log onto the website.

SHAND:

This is a strange conversation to have with a politician who wants to give money away and doesn’t want anything in return.

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Well I want to give people back their money; it is their money after all. We think it is really important. People work hard for their money and they should be able to be reunited with it, just as government’s should be very responsible with the tax dollars that we are given to look after and to spend wisely, we need to be accountable for that. So it is a two way street.

SHAND:

Well let me drop my objectivity for a moment and say my family thanks you for alerting us to this thousand dollar windfall. Thank you so much Kelly.

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Terrific Adam.