A mistake that suggested Arthur Sinodinos had been restored to the ministry marred the announcement of an improved register for financial advisers.
It’s a crucial step in trying to restore confidence in the nation’s financial advisers after a series of dodgy practices and hefty financial losses.
But the Abbott government’s announcement on Friday of an improved register for the beleaguered practitioners was marred by an embarrassing blunder.
Treasury was forced to issue a rare apology after mistakenly making the announcement under the name of suspended frontbencher Arthur Sinodinos, suggesting he had been restored to the ministry.
The department later corrected the name to Finance Minister and Acting Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann.
“Treasury apologises to all its stakeholders for this error and the confusion it may have caused,” acting Treasury secretary Jan Harris said in a statement.
Senator Sinodinos stood aside from as assistant treasurer in March while he faced questions from the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW. His future remains unclear.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen called the mix-up a “farce”.
“The government shouldn’t be putting the Treasury in this position. I think this is a very poor look,” Mr Bowen told reporters in Sydney.
He said Prime Minister Tony Abbott should have fixed the situation long ago.
Errors aside, the banking and financial industry backed the government’s new register that is expected to be up and running by March 2015 at a cost of $5 million.
Senator Cormann said it will be funded by increasing the current lodgment fee at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for Australian Financial Services licensees by $5 to $44.
Financial Planning Association boss Mark Rantall said it was a “big step” in the right direction.
“When you go to a financial planner you have the right to know you can trust the person you choose,” Mr Rantall said in a statement.
The announcement comes in the wake of a series of financial scandals as a result of bad advice.
But Senator Cormann has rejected a recommendation from the Senate economics committee calling for a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia after its financial advisers led to the loss of savings of 1100 clients.
Senator Cormann said there had been several inquiries into these events and CBA’s ‘open advice program’ and other initiatives should be given the opportunity to work.
Mr Bowen said the government is more than happy to call royal commissions when it suits them but when one is called by others it “shuts up shop and just says no”.
THE REGISTER OF FINANCIAL ADVISERS WILL INCLUDE:
* the adviser’s name, registration number, status and experience
* the advisers qualifications and professional association memberships
* the adviser’s licensee, previous licensees/authorised representatives and business name
* what product areas the adviser can provide advice on
* any bans, disqualifications or enforceable undertakings
* details around ownership of the financial services licensee and disclosure of the ultimate parent company where applicable.