Turnbull's reform agenda for 2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government would continue its commitment to ensuring transparency and accountability in the banking sector in 2017.

Speaking at a Financial Services Council (FSC) breakfast in Sydney yesterday, Turnbull outlined the government's reform agenda for next year.

"Our new requirement that bank CEOs appear at least annually before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, will improve the transparency and accountability of the banking sector and bring about cultural change within the banks," Turnbull said. 

"It will be over time a very important confidence building exercise and a very important exercise in increased accountability."

The government will also maintain its focus on improving the dispute resolution system. In May, Professor Ian Ramsay was appointed to chair a review of the role, powers and governance of all of the financial system’s external dispute resolution and complaints schemes

"The current dispute resolution system is not working as well as it should be. Our ultimate goal of future reform in this area is to ensure that all of the relevant bodies are working effectively, and that they produce the right outcomes for consumers," said Turnbull.

 

Super priorities


The government also has plans to reintroduce legislation that will ensure consistent governance standards across the superannuation industry that will apply to retail, corporate and industry superannuation funds. 

"This will address inconsistencies and push member interests ahead of industry interests," Turnbull said. 

The government will also enshrine in legislation, for the first time, the objective of the superannuation system to provide income in retirement that substitutes or supplements the age pension. 

"This is a clear, simple objective that will restore confidence in the system and guide decisions about super for generations to come," he said. 

Financial planning will also come under government scrutiny in 2017. Already the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer has introduced new mandated professional standards for the industry which will come into effect in 2019. 

"We will continue to make sure that remuneration structures also do not affect the advice financial planners give consumers," Turnbull said. 

 

Big opportunities


The government will also focus on promoting Australia's financial services industry as an export sector and promote innovation in the fintech industry. 

In its May budget, the government announced a tax and regulatory framework that will allow fund managers to offer products that foreign investors are already familiar with. This will support the government's commitment to the Asia Region Funds Passport.

Turnbull also echoed the FSC’s calls for a rethink of the withholding tax regime, noting that the government will consider the sustainability and competitiveness of the tax measure. 

According to the PM, fintechs are already changing the way business is done and is a big opportunity in Australia. 

"We have a very strong, very well-regulated financial services sector. Innovation is going to be a very big part of it and we have to work with you to make sure that regulation enables innovation, rather than constraining it."

The government will take a "technology neutral approach" giving it the ability to change laws to make sure there are no impediments to technology innovation. 

"Our introduction of legislation to make crowd-sourced equity funding easier to access is just one example."

Turnbull also gave a roundup of current inquiries in the government pipeline including the Productivity Commission's review into the savings system. 

The next stages of the review are due next year, which will consider alternative models of fund allocation, and stage three, following the full implementation of the MySuper reforms in July 2017, will complete the process.

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