The Senate has passed the government’s Future of Financial Advice reforms without debate.

The Senate has passed the government’s financial advice reforms without debate.

The upper house sat this morning to debate the passage of the government’s Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms, with only coalition senators available to debate the bills.

Despite a number of opposition senators speaking out against elements of the bills and urging the government to consider making amendments, a reconvening of all senators after a call of division voted in favour of the bills’ passage.

As part of the vote, the Senate rejected the proposal by the opposition to make amendments to the bills.

In a last ditch effort to delay the passage of the bills, opposition assistant treasury spokesman Mathias Cormann asked to read a statement.

After the Senate pressed ahead with the bills’ passage, Cormann requested to read a further 30-minute statement to go on record.

He called the lack of debate over the reforms an “absolute disgrace”.

In a separate statement, he labelled Labor’s shutdown of a FOFA debate as arrogant.

“Labor has arrogantly shut down debate in the Senate and rammed through its flawed Future of Financial Advice legislation without allowing any debate at all on 63 separate amendments,” he said.

“The government even gagged debate on its own confusing and convoluted amendments that would introduce a complex floating start date for FOFA, with a soft start date on 1 July 2012 and a hard start date one year later.

“It is extraordinary but typical of Labor’s mismanagement of the whole FOFA process that this legislation is being rushed through Parliament just 10 days before its proposed start date.

“The important regulations that underpin the FOFA legislation have yet to be finalised.”

Specifically, he cited the further ASIC guidance that was required for elements of the legislation and details of its code of conduct for financial advisers as key areas of unfinished business.

“It is illogical to expect financial advisers to comply with FOFA on 1 July 2012, even on a soft start basis, when the regulations, guidance and code of conduct will not be in place on that date,” he said.

“If the government had not gagged debate, it would have been able to consider the merits of the coalition’s sensible amendment to have one fixed starting date for FOFA on 1 July 2013.

“Debate was also gagged on a series of other sensible and constructive coalition amendments that would have fixed Labor’s current FOFA mess.”

A future coalition government would “fix FOFA”, he said.

“The government’s handling of this legislation has been rushed, inept and chaotic,” he said.

“The Labor government, with the support of the Greens in the Senate, has once again supported flawed legislation and it will be up to a future coalition government to clean up their mess.


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