The government has unveiled a new ‘expert reference panel’ to assist SMEs and consumers with financial and superannuation disputes.
Small Business Minister Michael McCormack said in a statement that the panel, which will include SME owners and consumer advocates, will help to “advise the best way to move to a one-stop-shop for dispute resolution”.
“Small businesses and consumers are critical parts of Australia’s economy. We must ensure their voices are heard as we move towards a fairer deal for all Australians,” he said.
Robin Buckham, director at Self Employed Australia, will represent the SME sector, while consumers will be represented by John Berrill of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal Advisory Council. The team is to be led by former Reserve Bank of Australia assistant governor Dr Malcolm Edey.
According to Mr McCormack, the role of the panel will be to go out into the community and listen to how Australian consumers and SME operators want disputes to be handled.
This forms part of the transition period towards the full launch of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
“This is an important first step in delivering our budget commitment to establish the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, which will provide free, fast and binding dispute resolution for small businesses and customers,” Mr McCormack said.
“I encourage Australians with ideas to get involved and have their say.”
Ironically, the government did not provide a means for business owners to be able to have that say. A spokesperson for Mr McCormack said to My Business that avenues for providing comments on the matter will be announced shortly.