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Review of the Bankruptcy Threshold for Creditor’s Petitions

Submission to: Attorney-General’s Department
Joint submission from Financial Rights Legal Centre, Consumer Action Law Centre and FCA setting out why the bankruptcy threshold should be increased to $50,000. It is currently $5,000. This means that people can unfairly lose their homes over very small debts and that bankruptcy is inappropriately used as a debt collection tool.

ASIC Consultation Paper 330 – Using the Product Intervention Power re Continuing Credit Contracts

Submission to: ASIC
Joint submission from FCA and the State and Territory financial counselling associations supporting ASIC’s proposed use of its product intervention power to impose a total cost cap on the use by entities of the continuing credit exemption in the national credit laws. The submission includes a number of case studies documenting the significant harm caused by the use of this model by BHF Solutions and its associate Cigno.

Inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities

Submission to: Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs
Joint consumer group submission (with CHOICE, ICAN and CCLSWA) documenting the high prices paid by First Nations people living in remote communities. The submission recommends that the Government develop an affordable pricing policy for remote communities, that remote stores are monitored for quality and quantity of goods as well as prices, and that income support payments are increased for people in these areas, recognising the higher cost of living.

Australian Banking Association Application for ACCC Authorisation re Financial Relief Programs April 2020

Submission to: ACCC
Joint consumer group submission (led by the Consumers Federation of Australia) in response to an application by the Australian Banking Association and its member banks, for authorisation by the ACCC for banks to agree on the minimum standards for consumer financial relief programs and to promote customers’ access to banking services in an environment where social distancing is in place. We support both of these applications. In relation to financial relief we suggest that the ACCC’s final authorisation require that banks consult with consumer groups about their content and that there be public reporting about the outcomes of these programs.

ASIC Consultation Paper 325 – Product Design and Distribution Obligations

Submission to: ASIC
Joint consumer group submission (led by Consumer Action Law Centre) that strongly supports the introduction of design and distribution powers (DDOs) for ASIC. The key issue is whether these will be implemented effectively. The submission makes a number of recommendations to ensure this is the case, including a stronger product governance framework and clearer guidance.

Review of Retails Payments Regulation

Submission to: Reserve Bank of Australia
Joint consumer group submission (led by Choice). We argue that Buy Now Pay Later providers are not playing by the same rules as other merchants and this imposes costs on all consumers. We also welcome the RBA's intervention to coordinate regulatory and industry action in relation to managing direct debits and recurring payments. It is ludicrous that consumers still have difficulty in cancelling these deductions.

Consumer Advocacy Body for Superannuation

Submission to: Treasury
Joint consumer group submission supporting the proposal for permanent consumer advocacy body in superannuation. We recommend that Super Consumers Australia be this independent voice.

Removal of the exemption for funeral expenses policies– Exposure draft legislation

Submission to: Treasury (Financial Services Reform Taskforce)
This package of draft legislation is a direct response to the Financial Services Royal Commission. The draft bills remove the current exemptions for funeral expenses policies from the licensing and conduct regime in the Corporations Act. We also argue that other exemptions for funeral insurance should also be removed from the Life Insurance Act and the Insurance Contracts Act. The submission supports the commencement date of 1 April 2020. The submission also raises concerns about the impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait policy holders of funeral insurance company ABCF. If this company does not obtain a licence under the new regime, a compensation/redress scheme will be needed for these policy holders. They should not face the loss of past contributions and no future coverage for the costs of their funerals, because of a past legal loopholes and poor drafting.

Joint consumer submission (Consumer Action, Financial Rights, FCA and Choice) – Exposure Draft consultation on the Corporations Amendment (Design and Distribution Obligations) Regulations 2019

Submission to: Financial Services Reform Taskforce, Treasury
We support DADOs applying as broadly as possible to reduce the number of loopholes in the law (a problem called out in the Financial Services Royal Commission). For example, DADOs should apply to buy now, pay later products. This submission supports the extension of DADOs to basic bank accounts. We argue that proposed exclusions for credit provided for business purposes and pawnbrokers should be removed, so that they are also included in the regime.
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