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Labor vows not to let FOFA die

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has pledged to take the un-amended FOFA policy to the next election and repeal the government’s changes if it wins.

Speaking at the FSC conference in Cairns yesterday, the former financial services minister said Labor will “not just forget” about its FOFA reforms but will continue to fight for its original reform agenda in the future.

“We will oppose the repeal of FOFA legislation when it finally comes before the parliament,” Mr Bowen said.

“We will continue to argue for the principles of FOFA. It is these principles that will guide the policy that we will take to the next election.”

At the same time, Mr Bowen pledged to continue engaging with industry and consumer groups – including the FSC – over coming years, claiming his side of politics “share[s] the objective of increasing Australian investor access to better quality and affordable advice”.

He also anticipated that another financial advice-related collapse would result in “much more radical change” being proposed than FOFA.

In a doorstop interview with journalists following his address, the shadow treasurer rejected the government’s claim that it took the FOFA amendment agenda to the last election and that is therefore had a mandate from the people to repeal parts of the legislation.

“I don’t think what they’ve done is reflected in what they took to the election,” he said.

The government’s “shambolic” decision to implement parts of its amendment agenda via regulation – as opposed to legislation – has further undermined consumer trust in the sector, he added.

Mr Bowen also paid tribute to outgoing FSC chief executive John Brogden and took thinly-veiled swipe at Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann, who was unable to attend the conference due to cabinet commitments.

“I give you this pledge: if we do win the next federal election, I’ll be back to speak to you again as Treasurer,” he said.

“I don’t see the FSC as an organisation to be duchessed in opposition and ignored in government – I’ll not only speak to you but will continue to consult with you, because the FSC has an important voice to bring to the debate and discussions on our economy.”