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‘A disastrous winding back of consumer protections’: Industry group warns

  • February 05 2021
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Borrow

‘A disastrous winding back of consumer protections’: Industry group warns

By Cameron Micallef
February 05 2021

The government’s proposed changes to consumer lending laws will harm Australian consumers and families while hindering the economic recovery it is intended to promote, a consumer advocacy group has warned.

consumer protections

‘A disastrous winding back of consumer protections’: Industry group warns

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  • February 05 2021
  • Share

The government’s proposed changes to consumer lending laws will harm Australian consumers and families while hindering the economic recovery it is intended to promote, a consumer advocacy group has warned.

consumer protections

The government is trying to improve the flow of credit by removing the obligation banks and financial institutions have to not extend credit to people who can not afford to pay it back.

Under the new laws, the consumers would make the decision instead of the financial institutions.

While making it easier for consumers to get credit, a group of nine consumer advocacy groups have released a joint submission to stop the bill passing the Senate. 

The group argued the proposed changes will expose disadvantaged Australians to predatory lending and set the country up for a “household debt disaster”, an alliance of consumer rights groups have warned. 

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“The bill flies in the face of the financial services royal commission final report, which recommended the responsible lending laws remain intact. Instead, the federal government is moving to overturn them,” Gerard Brody, chief executive of Consumer Action Law Centre, said.

“Providing easy debt to spend our way out of the COVID crisis is a short-sighted ‘fix’ that will have terrible long-term consequences for many people. Even with the laws we have in place, people are still being lured into unaffordable debt, and this bill would leave the consumer credit law framework gutted and in a state of disarray.”

Financial Rights chief executive Karen Cox said the proposed changes would remove vital legal lifelines that borrowers can call upon against lenders when they are sold unaffordable credit they could never hope to repay. It will also remove penalties for irresponsible conduct.

“If this bill is passed, it will cause untold harm to individuals and families. Removing these protections will allow lenders to load people up with unaffordable debt at a time when many people are already struggling amid the pressures of COVID-19.”

The group highlighted that the changes to consumer laws are against banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s recommendation that the law remain unchanged, in his report two years ago.

“Axing safe lending laws will hinder our economic recovery. Australia already has the second-highest level of personal household debt in the world. Loading people up with even more debt will make it even more challenging for households already doing it tough,” CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland concluded.

‘A disastrous winding back of consumer protections’: Industry group warns
consumer protections
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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