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    ASIC INDEPENDENCE AT THREAT WITH APPOINTMENT OF JOHN O’SULLIVAN

    Reports today that the Turnbull Government intends to proceed to appoint John O'Sullivan as Chair of ASIC threaten the independence of and bipartisan support for this important regulator. 

    Labor makes it very clear, we will not support Mr O'Sullivan's appointment, should it proceed. 

    Labor does not do this lightly. We do this in light if our most serious concerns and our respect for the importance of ASIC's independence. 

    The reputation of the corporate regulator and its leadership team must be beyond reproach and so to appoint Mr O’Sullivan would raise serious questions around ASIC’s independence and its ability to command trust across markets and the Parliament.

    On 24 June this year, in response to earlier reports that this appointment was receiving serious consideration by the Turnbull Government, Federal Labor provided a clear warning on appointing such a partisan figure linked to the Utegate affair which clearly tainted Malcolm Turnbull, to such an important economic institution.

    There were emails released as part of the investigations into the Utegate affair which showed contact between Mr O’Sullivan, then Chairman of Credit Suisse’s Australian investment banking operations, and disgraced Treasury official Godwin Grech.

    Mr O’Sullivan has been a Liberal Party member in Mr Turnbull’s electorate, a President of the Liberal Party’s Wentworth federal electoral conference and previously donated to Mr Turnbull’s Wentworth Forum.

    Australia has well-respected economic regulators based on a tradition of non-partisan appointments.

    If the Prime Minister and Treasurer were so foolhardy as to proceed with this appointment, this matter would go directly to the poor judgement of the Prime Minister and Treasurer.

    To be frank, it would be a clear sign that Malcolm Turnbull has learnt nothing since Utegate.

    The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has a vital role to play in regulating financial conduct and protecting Australian consumers and the last thing it needs is this sort of controversy fixing itself upon ASIC’s leadership team.

    WEDNESDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2017

    This is a joint media release with Labor's Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen MP.

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    WORKERS WORSE OFF UNDER TURNBULL GOVERNMENT

    The Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute’s report released today reveals that employees stand to lose $100 billion in retirement savings due largely to a number of poor Government policies. 

    The reportThe Consequences of Wage Suppression for Australia’s Superannuation System,  shows that wage freezes, cuts to penalty rates and enterprise agreement terminations all contribute to reduced superannuation savings.

    These are all policies the Turnbull Government supports.

    At a time when wages growth is at record lows, this Government wants to cut penalty rates, freeze wages for its own employees and encourage the termination of agreements, all of which contribute to reduced superannuation savings.

    We are seeing too many examples of workers missing out as a result of decisions made by the Turnbull Government, which is hurting the economy, prosperity and growing inequality.

    The Turnbull Government should give up its ideological and anti-union attack on industry super funds and focus on policies that maximise superannuation balances for Australians in their retirement years.

    It is increasingly evident that this Government sees unions as their political enemy and a threat – and rather than focusing on improving wage growth or job security, it is obsessed with fear campaigns and ripping away the structures that support workers. 

    This government is dysfunctional and divided and is only united when it is attacking workers and their unions. 

    Under the Turnbull government we are headed to a low-wage, easy-to-hire, easy-to-fire society.

    MONDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2017

    This is a joint media release with Brendan O'Connor MP, Labor's Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations.

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    BANKING FLAWS EXPOSE LOOPHOLES FOR CRIMINALS

    Concerning new reports in Fairfax newspapers today of money laundering under the noses of our big banks is yet another reminder of the Turnbull Government's failure to call a Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector.

    The reports raise serious concerns of loopholes and questionable banking practices that are creating opportunities for drug dealers and other criminals to funnel money offshore through Australian accounts.

    What else has to happen before Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison admit we need a Royal Commission into the Australian banking and financial services sector?

    Recently we have seen allegations from AUSTRAC against the Commonwealth Bank about significant breaches of anti money laundering and terrorism funding laws and now there is an investigation by the prudential regulator APRA.

    These are incredibly serious revelations and the government needs to explain what safeguards will be put in place to stop this behaviour from happening.

    This behaviour appears to have been happening right under the noses of the big banks, but not enough is being done to stop it.

    Labor will not stop calling for a Royal Commission to address the systemic, structural and cultural issues in the banking sector.

    FRIDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2017 

    This is a joint media release with Labor's Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen MP and Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury Matt Thistlethwaite MP.

     

    BANKING FLAWS EXPOSE LOOPHOLES FOR CRIMINALS

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    SECOND-RATE NBN LEAVES NSW SMALL BUSINESS REELING

    NSW small businesses have reported the NBN is costing them an average of $9,000 through delays, disruptions and loss of sales.

    Of great concern, 43 per cent of the 850 businesses surveyed by the NSW Business Chamber reported being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the NBN.

    This figure is nearly three times greater than the 15 per cent dissatisfaction rate claimed by the Turnbull Government.

    Further, 39 per cent of those surveyed reported having to wait more than four weeks for their NBN connection to come online, 15 per cent waited three to four weeks, 16 per cent waited one to two weeks and just 30 per cent waited less than one week.

    In an interview with ABC breakfast radio a spokesman for the NSW Business Chamber said it was “stunned by the responses”.

                    Source: ABC AM, 12 September 2017

    This comes on the back of the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) expressing the frustration of its members:

    When people think NBN, they think fast internet but then they sign up and find they are getting slower speeds than they were before. We were told it would be so fast it would shock us. It has shocked us but not because it’s fast.”

    By abandoning Fibre to the Premises in 2013, then having to play catch-up by rushing the flawed multi-technology mix, the Government has undermined the NBN experience for small business.

    Only Labor understands that small business needs fast and reliable broadband to compete in the 21st century.

    TUESDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2017

    This is a joint media release with Michelle Rowland MP, Labor's Shadow Minister for Communications.

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    Media Adviser/Electorate Officer– (Electorate Officer B)

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    Applications are invited for a Media/Electorate Officer position based in Canberra.

    The duties of the position include media monitoring; drafting of media releases, speeches and transcripts; preparing digital and social media materials; responding to media enquiries; assisting in the preparation of the Senator’s parliamentary and shadow portfolio work; and community and constituent engagement.

    This position requires a highly motivated and organised person with the following skills:

    • excellent writing and communication skills, including speech writing skills;
    • excellent IT and social media skills;
    • good organisational ability;
    • ability to work under pressure in a dynamic environment;
    • ability to show initiative, work independently and as a part of a small team;
    • ability to prioritise and manage a number of ongoing tasks and work to deadlines.

    The position is offered under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 and conditions are outlined in the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2016-2019.

    A salary within the range of $64 153 and $74 900 pa will be determined commensurate with relevant skills and experience. In addition, an optional allowance of up to $19 368 is payable in recognition of and as compensation for, reasonable additional hours of work.

    A probationary period of 3 months will apply.

    Applications setting out details of experience and the names of two referees should be
    forwarded to: Sharon Scrivener, Office Manager at sharon.scrivener@aph.gov.au

    Applications close on 21 September 2017.

    For further information please contact Sharon Scrivener on (02) 62300411.

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    SLOMO’S DOUBLE SPEAK ON BANK INQUIRIES IS BEMUSING

    Scott Morrison is bringing himself undone over his hapless attempts to convince Australians that there is no need for a Royal Commission into the banks.

    If you believe ScoMo, a Royal Commission into the entire banking sector is not action, but a single inquiry into just one bank is ‘real action’.

    While Labor welcomes today's announcement by APRA to establish an independent inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank following years of scandals and the recent serious allegations of corporate failings by AUSTRAC, we still strongly believe a Royal Commission is needed.

    Over the past 18 months alone we have seen more than $300 million in fines or compensation paid from across the banking and financial services sector. 

    The simple fact is we need to ensure Australia's banking system is customer focused and the best it can be across the board. 

    The question now is when will the Turnbull Government act in the interests of Australians and establish a Royal Commission.

    Not even the serious allegations of breaches of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism funding laws by Australia’s largest bank have been enough to convince the Prime Minister to establish a Royal Commission.  

    What is it going to take?

    MONDAY, AUGUST 28 2017

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    LABOR LEADS DISCUSSION ON WAYS TO BOOST COMMUNITY HOUSING INVESTMENT

    Labor is again leading the way on housing affordability, bringing together superannuation funds and community housing providers to consider ways to boost investment in affordable housing in Australia.

    Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Doug Cameron and Shadow Minister for Financial Services, Katy Gallagher, today facilitated a roundtable between community housing providers and industry super funds to discuss options for investment in the local market.

    AHURI analysis, based on the most recent Census figures show that the proportion of social housing has shrunk over the past 30 years, down from a high of 7 percent in 1991 to 4.2 percent of all housing.

    While social housing has declined in Australia, Australian super funds have invested over $1 billion into social housing – but in the USA and UK.

    Australian industry super funds have a good record of investing in productive, job-generating projects in Australia. These funds are a potential major source of investment for Australia’s comparatively small community housing sector.

    With investment in social and affordable housing sorely needed, government needs to lead the way in encouraging such investment.

    Labor advocated for a ‘bond aggregator’ investment vehicle which would assist CHP’s to access cheaper finance, while giving super funds the chance to invest at scale. The Turnbull government has adopted Labor’s policy, but has failed to follow through with policies that would address the ‘yield gap’ that still exists for investors in housing for low-income tenants.

    Labor’s roundtable in Melbourne will discuss ways in which barriers to investment such as the yield gap can be overcome.

    We thank both the representatives from the community housing providers and the superannuation sector who attended the roundtable and engaged constructively in discussion around opportunities to invest in this space.

    WEDNESDAY 23 AUGUST, 2017

    This is a joint media release with Senator the Hon Doug Cameron Labor's Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness.

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    COMMBANK YET AGAIN MAKES THE CASE FOR A ROYAL COMMISSION

    The Commonwealth Bank has yet again made the case for a Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector, with the bank releasing an update list of the costs of current rip offs and scandals under the cloak of the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer.

    Today under the cover of the announcement regarding Ian Narev’s impending resignation and in the wake of the allegations of more than 53,000 breaches of money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws, the Commonwealth Bank has itself provided more reasons to support Labor’s call for a Royal Commission – with examples of insurance rip-offs, employee entitlement rip-offs, credit card overcharging and continued ASIC investigations.

    Today the Commonwealth Bank has reported:

    • It will repay more than $10 million to 65,000 customers who were sold consumer credit insurance they would never be able to claim against because they did not meet the appropriate employment criteria
    • A sharp increase in the amount of superannuation payments owed to part-time staff from around 7,000 staff to 36,000 totalling $13.8 million plus interest
    • ASIC is investigating cases where CBA customers were ripped off with inflated home loan protection insurance premiums
    • ASIC is investigating claims that customers were receiving personal advice rather than general advice during the sale of Essential Super
    • The Bank will refund up to $5 million in credit card charges on disputed transactions.

    Last week the Treasurer said that “all options” were on the table when it came to the Commonwealth Bank but that ‘tough talk’ has been shown now to be nothing more than empty rhetoric. It’s clear that the only option left to the Turnbull Government is a Royal Commission.

    It’s time for the Prime Minister and Treasurer to stop protecting their banker mates and instead stand up for banking customers.

    What will it take for Malcolm Turnbull to show some leadership and join with Labor, the majority of the Senate cross-bench and members of his own backbench and establish a Royal Commission immediately.

    This is a joint media release with Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury.

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    TIME TO BACK THE LITTLE GUYS

    The Senate today passed Labor’s access to justice policy, which will help small businesses take cases of anti-competitive behaviour to court.

    Currently, small businesses are less likely to take up private litigation against anti-competitive behaviour.

    This is because big businesses have deep pockets and armies of lawyers, so the risk of small businesses being bankrupted by legal fees is a significant disincentive to taking action against anti-competitive conduct.

    But this bill will allow a small business request a ‘no adverse costs order’ early in a court case. If the judge decides that the case is in the public interest, the small business will not have the risk of paying the other side’s costs if they lose.

    The bill will now return to the House of Representatives, where Malcolm Turnbull has the chance to show whose side he’s on – small business or multinational goliaths.

    This reform is based on evidence of what works. Now it just needs the Turnbull Government to stand up for the little guys.

    THURSDAY, 10 AUGUST 2017

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    GOVERNMENT’S PRODUCT INTERVENTION POWERS GO MISSING AS CONSUMERS CONTINUE TO GET A RAW DEAL

    The Turnbull Government needs to get serious about reforms to consumer protection laws in the wake of an announcement today by the corporate watchdog that QBE will refund $15.9 million to 35,000 customers who were sold add-on insurance that they didn’t need.

    Today’s announcement by ASIC is clear evidence that consumers continue to get a bad deal under current laws and reforms need to be made to improve consumer protections against junk insurance.

    ASIC has found that QBE Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance:

    • was sold where there was unlikely to be a gap between the insured value of the car and the loan balance, for example because the customer paid a large deposit
    • duplicated existing cover held by consumers
    • provided consumers with more insurance than they needed

    ASIC also found that QBE Consumer Credit Protection (CCI) insurance was sold to young people who had no dependents and who were unlikely to need the cover.

    According to ASIC: “CCI has long been associated with poor consumer outcomes in Australia and overseas, including consumers being unaware that they have purchased CCI and consumers being ineligible to make a claim on their CCI policy.”

    In April 2016 the Government announced that it would bring forward draft legislation by the middle of this year on the product intervention power which would afford the regulator the powers to ban products such as these altogether.

    To-date we have seen no legislation and Treasury officials confirmed recently that drafting of the laws had not yet begun.

    The longer the Government drags its heels, the higher the number of vulnerable consumers who will be signed up to insurance products they don’t need and be ripped off.

    Reforms to protect against add-on insurance look like going the same way as the Turnbull Government’s much hyped but not delivered credit card and small amount credit contract reforms.

    This Government is pretty quick to make promises when it wants a headline but then does nothing to deliver much needed reforms.

    The Turnbull Government  is more focused on division and disunity internally rather than doing the job they are elected to do and which, when it comes to junk insurance, would be delivering reforms which protect consumers.

    WEDNESDAY 2 AUGUST 2017

     

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