Federal Labor has accused the government of shelving unpopular changes to financial advice laws until after the West Australian Senate election.
The Abbott government is delaying a controversial roll back of Labor’s financial advice reforms amid concerns it would weaken protections for investors.
The government has decided to wait until Finance Minister Mathias Cormann consults all relevant stakeholders “before pressing the go button” on changes to Future of Financial Advice laws.
But shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says the coalition is just delaying the overhaul until after the April 5 WA election, where consumer protection is a key concern after the Westpoint collapse.
“You’ve got these very unpopular and controversial changes all of a sudden delayed, conveniently until after the West Australian election,” Mr Bowen told ABC radio.
Mr Bowen said Senator Cormann, a West Australian, would be “very alive to the politics”.
“So forgive me for being cynical,” Mr Bowen said.
The government has been under fire for proposing to water down Labor’s ban on advisers receiving commissions so it only applies to personal financial advice, and exempts the likes of bank tellers from giving general advice.
Senator Cormann said the government had no plan to get rid of consumer protections, but Mr Bowen accused the minister of spin.
“If it walks like a commission, and talks like a commission, it’s a commission,” Mr Bowen said.
Labor wants the proposed changes scrapped entirely.
Senator Cormann said it was “ridiculous” to suggest the government was delaying changes until after the WA Senate election re-run.
“It is very apparent that there is some confusion about what we’re proposing to do,” he told Sky News, adding he would consult with stakeholders.
The government had no plans to reintroduce commissions but was committed to ensuring the right balance between consumer protection and affordable access to high quality advice.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants welcomed the government’s decision to delay its changes.