An industry association is engaging with government around allowing the extension of time for FASEA compliance to occur through regulation rather than passing a bill, with Parliament still hamstrung by the coronavirus.
AFA general manager of policy and professionalism Phil Anderson told ifa the association had discussed providing regulatory relief so advisers could have some certainty around the compliance timelines for the exam in particular, with the remote proctoring process having caused problems for some advisers.
“We have raised the possibility of the government [extending the deadline] by regulation, and we’ve seen ASIC recently use their powers to provide exemptions, so there are other avenues,” Mr Anderson said.
“I think the government would prefer to do it through legislation, but we are saying if that is going to be materially delayed, for the benefit of certainty we would rather that it was resolved through some other means and the legislation could then be passed at the appropriate time.”
The comments come following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s confirmation on Friday that Parliament would resume for a reduced three-day sitting beginning on 12 May, as Australia’s success at ‘flattening the curve’ of new COVID-19 infections allowed some MPs to return earlier than the previously announced August sitting.
However, Mr Anderson said the AFA was not confident that the FASEA extension bill would pass the Senate, where it has sat since passing the House of Representatives earlier this year, during the reduced sitting period.
“This is important for advisers but the country is facing many issues and some clearly are more substantial than this particular issue, so we are not unrealistically optimistic that this is going to be high on [the Senate’s] priority list when they get to Canberra,” he said.
An ongoing ifa poll that has so far had almost 370 responses reveals the lack of certainty around the FASEA compliance deadline is causing advisers the most grief amid the COVID-19 crisis.
When asked what the government could do to best support advisers through the crisis, 36 per cent of respondents have said the urgent passage of the FASEA extension bill should be the top priority.
FPA chief executive Dante De Gori echoed the poll’s sentiments that passage of the extension bill was “a critical issue for financial planners at this difficult time”.
“The FPA is aware of the time constraints that professionals faced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and that time is even more restrictive now,” he told ifa.
Mr De Gori was more optimistic about the bill’s prospects and said the FPA had been in regular contact with the government and opposition on the issue.
“The FPA is pushing for the Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No.3) Bill 2019 to be a priority on the agenda when Parliament resumes in May,” he said.
“This bill is a lifeline for financial planners across Australia and will grant them the necessary extension to complete new education requirements at a time when they are out in our communities providing advice to Australians in need.”
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