Former Coalition senator Cory Bernardi has strongly criticised the government’s proposal to establish the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
Speaking to InvestorDaily, Senator Bernardi – who defected from the Liberal Party in February to establish the Australian Conservatives – said the government’s proposal lacks merit.
A former stockbroker and investment manager before entering politics, the controversial South Australian senator said AFCA would misguidedly treat all participants in the financial services industry equally.
“The government has made a faux pas with respect to the proposed amalgamation of the complaint and dispute resolution bodies,” Mr Bernardi said.
“It is pushing everybody into a larger corporate structure and I don’t think that’s appropriate. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be some reform, but there is a vast difference between between a banking wealth management arm, or financial planning arm, versus an independently-owned arm, versus your suburban accountant. They're all different entities, and they need to be treated accordingly.”
Mr Bernardi also revealed he has changed his position on a royal commission into the banking sector, explaining that the allegations of money laundering by the Commonwealth Bank mean that the inquiry is now “hard to argue against”.
“The industry doesn’t help itself in some respects. The big banks, I think, it seems there's an inevitability about royal commission into those now. I think that will happen,” he said.
The senator, who now occupies a key seat on the federal crossbench, said his party would support “a return to deregulation” of the financial services sector, but stopped short of endorsing rollbacks of specific policies.
He said that business owners and financial services providers may be natural allies for the Australian Conservatives.
“We need more people in politics who actually understand business and specific aspects of business,” he said.