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New Assistant Treasurer appointment an industry 'game changer'

Kelly O’Dwyer’s appointment as Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer will be beneficial for the industry as it ramps up its efforts to have the risk reform proposals amended, says one industry association.

Ms O’Dwyer will replace former small business minister Bruce Billson and former assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Following the announcement, AIOFP chief executive Peter Johnston said the appointment was “great news” for the industry.

“This should be a game changer with our ‘Battle for Fairness’ campaign,” Mr Johnston wrote in an email to his members.

“With Kelly having both portfolios she will more than likely have a sympathetic ear for small business operators, and not coming from an institutional background will tilt the ‘fairness barometer’ in favour of consumers and advisers,” he said.

Along with Ms O'Dwyer's appointment, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull named Scott Morrison as the new Treasurer. 

Commenting on the new cabinet appointments, FSC acting chief executive Andrew Bragg said the council expects the new Treasury team "will hit the ground running during this term to complete the reform agenda established by their predecessors". 


"Life insurance reform is overdue. The sustainability reform proposals have taken five years to develop and must swiftly progress," he said. 

Last week, federal Liberal MP Bert van Manen told ifa sister publication Risk Adviser that the time was ripe for the industry to ”apply pressure” for changes to be made to the insurance reforms.

Speaking to Risk Adviser, Mr van Manen – a former financial adviser – said the industry reforms were “not set in stone” since they present many difficulties for advisers, especially small business owners.

“This is the time for feedback and for the industry to apply pressure,” Mr van Manen said.

Meanwhile, Ms O’Dwyer will have a wide-ranging remit including superannuation and tax.

“The Assistant Treasurer is in effect the minister for revenue and is responsible for the tax system, which is at the very centre of our whole productivity agenda, indeed at the very centre of the small business agenda,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Sunday.

Also commenting on Ms O’Dwyer’s appointments, AFA national president Deborah Kent said the association was looking forward to the opportunity to consult with the new minister.

“Ms O’Dwyer will have significant decisions to make in the government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry, the area of professional standards for financial advice, and also in regard to the future of life insurance advice,” Ms Kent said.

“These issues have significant implications for the future of self-employed advisers and small business financial advice practices – two groups that ensure appropriate competition in financial services,” she said.

Prior to Ms O’Dwyer’s election to parliament for the seat of Higgins in December 2009, she worked as an economic policy adviser to the federal treasurer and held an executive position with NAB.