The Federal Government has sought to defend its move towards the creation of a mega-ombudsman for the financial services industry as a better option for consumers than the "lawyers picnic" which would surround a Royal Commission into the banking and financial services industry.
Both the Treasurer, Scott Morrison and the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O'Dwyer pointed to lawyers being the only winners from a Royal Commission.
O'Dwyer even claimed that the response to the interim report of the expert panel review external dispute resolution (EDR) within the financial services industry had been overwhelmingly positive, particularly around the proposal for an one-stop complaints and compensation scheme with the power to resolve disputes in a timely manner.
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"I am particularly heartened by the response from consumer groups who deal directly with people who have experienced long-running disputes with banks and institutions that offer financial products," O'Dwyer said, pointing out that the groups which had backed the draft recommendations included the Consumer Action Law Centre, the Financial Rights Legal Centre and Financial Counselling Australia.
"They understand better than anyone that consumers caught up in disputes need a body that will help resolve their issues quickly and without a drawn-out, expensive, and highly legalistic process," she said. "Meanwhile Labor wants to push a process that will take years, will deliver the most financial benefit to lawyers, and will not make any practical difference to those who have complaints about the past conduct of the banks. Royal Commissions cannot make compensation payments."
Morrison said the Government was seeking to deliver a practical solution for people impacted by the banks, while the Labor party was seeking to promote more political debate.
"What we are working to do is to create a new environment in this area where people, through a binding resolution, will get an outcome to their case. They get their case heard," the Treasurer said.