In a surprise move, the Senate has agreed to pass a cut-down version of the FOFA Streamlining Bill first introduced into Parliament in March 2014.  After the amendments proposed by the Government and agreed by the Opposition, there is not much left to the Bill that passed the Senate as can be seen from the mark-up we have prepared showing the effect of the amendments to the Bill.  A copy of the Government amendments can be found here and the Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum for the changes can be found here.  The Bill will now need to passed by the House of Representatives once again before it becomes law.

All that is left in the Bill is:

Extending the time to give a fee disclosure statement or renewal notice to 60 days after the end of the relevant period. Extending basic banking product exemptions to unrelated non-cash payment products, general insurance and consumer credit insurance. Extending the training exemption to training relevant to carrying on a financial services business. Including a power to make regulations to deem benefits to be conflicted remuneration, but not to exclude benefits from being caught. Including notes relating to giving benefits and intrafund advice.

This means that significant amendments have been excluded and will not be proceeded with, including:

The Palmer United Party amendments to statement of advice requirements, of course. The removal of the opt-in notice requirement. The restructuring of the best interests duty safe harbour. The express recognition of scaled advice. Certain conflicted remuneration exemptions, including the general advice exemption. Fixing the defective volume-based shelf space fee provisions.  Among other things, this means that insurance and basic banking products can still fall within these provisions.

Some of the remaining amendments in the Bill are useful, in particular the time extensions for fee disclosure statements and renewal notices and the extension of the basic banking and training exemptions.  However, there is no doubt that the Bill has been gutted of the most significant streamlining amendments and is therefore suitably and very bureaucratically renamed the Financial Advice Measures Bill.

Tim Sutton