A Treasury Laws Amendment Bill that was expected to have passed last week, giving financial advisers a one-year extension to complete a new exam requirement, has been delayed to June 10 when parliament resumes.

The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) is frustrated over the delay, which was triggered after the ALP decided to include an amendment to the bill to ban stamping fees on listed investment companies.

“It all came down to them wanting to move that amendment and therefore it was not treated as non-controversial,” AFA GM Policy and Professionalism Phil Anderson told insuranceNEWS.com.au today.

“There were other higher priority bills that the Government has scheduled in front of it, so it was never actually debated or voted on.

“I guess it’s just frustrating for advisers because it’s a political process more than it is a process related to the substance of the issue. It’s been caught up in the politics of an unrelated matter – the stamping fees issue.

“Both sides are saying they support the extension but last week it got caught up in the politics of whether the ALP was going to move this amendment of an unrelated matter.”

The Government announced last August it would grant a one-year extension to January 2022 for advisers to pass the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam, and a two-year extension until January 2026 for them to meet FASEA education requirements.

Last week the AFA urged the ALP to support the passing of the bill, which has taken on more urgency because of the virus pandemic.

“We want our members to be focussed on their clients, not only at this critical time, but all the time,” CEO Philip Kewin said. “The delay in passing this legislation is, however, causing anxiety and having an increasing impact on the mental health of financial advisers.

The United Financial Advisers Association today said the delay could further hasten the exodus of advisers from the industry, leaving consumers worse off at a time when they most need financial advice to overcome the virus pandemic economic disruption.

“It simply defies comprehension,” Chairman and spokesman Alex Vagliviello said today of the bill’s delay.

“At a time when the nation is facing its greatest economic challenge, access to quality professional advice and service is so crucially needed by Australian consumers, business owners and individuals that have lost jobs, the government has chosen to extend the relief Bill to August.

“This latest fiasco will not only accelerate the exodus, but in doing so, condemn their administrative staff and paraplanners to be added to the ranks of unemployed.”

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