Government lets loan sharks off the hook

21 Sep 2020
Credit card

A Senate committee report recommending that the Government not pass what is essentially a copy its own legislation on payday lending reforms is simply staggering, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.

The Centre Alliance MP was responding to today’s release of the inquiry into the National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Small Amount Credit Contract and Consumer Lease Reforms) Bill 2019 (No. 2) by the Economics Legislation Committee.

“This legislation is a mirror image of the Government’s own legislation, drafted in 2017 and based on the recommendation of its own review into this urgent consumer protection issue back in 2016,” Rebekha said.

"I actually introduced the legislation as a Private Member's Bill in September last year, and in an attempt to keep the pressure on, my Centre Alliance colleague Senator Stirling Griff and Labor introduced exactly the same legislation in the Senate in December.

“To reject the National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Small Amount Credit Contract and Consumer Lease Reforms) Bill 2019 (No. 2) because industry groups didn’t unanimously support the legislation is ridiculous.

“Of course they don’t want the legislation. They stand to lose out on massive profits from practices proven to disadvantage vulnerable people.

“Now more than ever, amid a pandemic, we need consumer protections.

“This is a critical time of enormous financial stress for people and desperate people need protecting from loan sharks.

"The feedback I am receiving from financial counsellors is that there are very stressed people in precarious financial positions due to losing their jobs because of the restrictions caused by the pandemic.

“I note that the Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Senator Jane Hume, was quoted in the media back in May as saying being able to access super early was a much better option than increase credit limits or seeking funds through payday lenders.

“If the Government can see the danger in dodgy payday lenders, why won’t they support the introduction of their own reforms?

“The Government has the deciding vote on the Economics Legislation Committee. They could have recommended approval for this bill.

“Once again I call on the Government to stop listening to vested interests and pass their own legislation on payday lending reforms.”

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