The advice sector has been forced back to the drawing board in its lobbying efforts as the bill to extend the FASEA compliance deadline faces the possibility of being taken off the legislative agenda.
Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association chief executive Judith Fox said politicians were “playing with the livelihoods of financial advisers” by supporting an unrelated amendment to the bill containing the extension, which could have been tabled at another time.
“At a time of market volatility, when retail clients most need advice, politicians have used the bill to try to force change on an unrelated matter, that of transparency in financial reporting,” Ms Fox said.
“In a time of economic uncertainty and rising unemployment, it is inconceivable that politicians would put livelihoods at risk, when other options were open to them to seek the change to financial reporting.”
Ms Fox pointed out that the amendment being sought by senator Rex Patrick of the Centre Alliance, which related to bringing grandfathered large proprietary companies into ASIC’s reporting scheme, could have been attached to any Treasury bill.
AIOFP executive director Peter Johnston agreed that the amendment, which related to grandfathering provisions put in place 25 years ago, had “come out of left field”.
“Although Senator Patrick’s views seem fair and reasonable the timing does us no favours,” Mr Johnston said.
“With the Coalition unlikely to go against wealthy families and the ALP willing to support the action, our only choice seems to be pleading our case directly with Senator Patrick.”
However, an email from Mr Patrick to Mr Johnston on Saturday indicated the senator was unlikely to back down on his amendment, suggesting the industry instead lobby the government if they wanted the bill passed.
"The bill having passed the Senate, where people were trying to pressure me not to do the right thing, it is now in the hands of the government, where good people such as yourself can pressure them to do the right thing," Mr Patrick said.
"You need to apply that pressure because if the bill is rejected by the House and comes back to the Senate, I will ask the Senate to insist on the amendment."
AFA chief executive Phil Kewin also told ifa the association would be “endeavouring to work with all stakeholders to ensure a suitable solution”.
The amendment proposed by Mr Patrick does not have government support, with senator Jane Hume insisting during Friday’s upper house sitting that the government would deal with the issues raised around grandfathering separately as part of its response to a Senate committee report on tax avoidance.
If the Senate insists on its amendments, but the House does not agree to them, the bill is likely to be sacrificed as the House cannot force the Senate to vote again on the original bill.
The AFA has previously raised the possibility of regulatory relief as an additional avenue through which to extend the compliance deadline, however Mr Kewin said while the bill was still active, this was not an option.
“ASIC has the power to provide exemptions, but in our conversations with ASIC they would be highly unlikely to exercise those powers whilst there is a bill in front of Parliament,” Mr Kewin said.
“Parliamentary process needs to take place, so I imagine those powers would only be exercised if directed by the government or if ASIC sees the need to intervene.”
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