Australia postpones Royal Commission financial sector reforms

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Australia postpones Royal Commission financial sector reforms

The Australian government announced today it will postpone a series of reforms to the country's financial sector in the light of widespread disruption wrought by the covid-19 outbreak.

The reforms were detailed in a series of some 50 recommendations set out by the Royal Commission in a report following a wave of banking and wealth management scandals across the country between 2012 and 2017.

News of the delay was welcomed by the financial services industry.

Philip Kewin, chief executive of the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA), "Access to financial advice will be critical for Australians as we work our way through this crisis. We expect that the Government will closely monitor the full impact of the crisis, and continue to assess the right timing for moving forward with these reforms."

Kewin added, "AFA remains hopeful that this sensible deferral will allow time for more consultation, and looks forward to working with the government to consider the proposals that have been put forward to improve the exposure draft legislation, in order to ensure that these important reforms are both achievable and practical."

Josh Frydenberg, Australia's federal treasurer, said, "This announcement today balances the need to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission with the need to ensure our financial institutions are in a position to devote their resources to responding to the significant challenges posed by the coronavirus."

Frydenberg added: "The changes will also provide certainty and clarity to all stakeholders about the government's commitment to implementing the recommendations arising out of the Royal Commission."

To date, the government in Canberra said it has implemented 24 commitments and has advanced on a further 35 pieces of draft legislation.

Rob Whelan, chief executive of the Insurance Council of Australia, said the ICA had been "seeking a delay to the timeframes for implementation of the Royal Commission legislation to 1 July 2022."

Whelan added: "In this time of immense disruption, the resources of insurers must be focused on helping customers and ensuring claims are handled efficiently and fairly."

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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.