FASEA exam bill at a political impasse

FASEA exam bill

An extension to the time frame for advisers to complete the FASEA exam remain caught up in parliament due to further amendments to an enabling bill.

Efforts by the federal government to pass a bill that would extend the time frame in which financial advisers could complete the FASEA exam have been frustrated after the bill cycled between the upper and lower houses due to a late amendment.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No 3) Bill, which contains the provisions to extend the window provided to complete the FASEA exam until the end of 2021 was passed by the Senate last Friday after some delays, but with unrelated amendments that require approval from the House of Representatives.

The amendments put forward by Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick relate to financial reporting obligations for large proprietary companies and were supported by the Labor Party and the Greens.

As a result of this change, the bill was reintroduced into the lower house today, but the amendments were rejected by the government after a debate and vote on the matter was won 55 votes to 53 votes.

This delay follows an earlier hold-up due to the addition of amendments by the Labor Party in the lower house, which attracted negative attention from advisers and criticism from Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology Jane Hume.

Commenting on the amendment on Friday, the SMSF Association stated: “As it currently stands, it is unlikely this bill will be returned to the House of Representatives in the current sitting of parliament and may be deferred until both houses sit again in early August.

“The SMSF Association is aware this is an important issue for advisers and we will continue to advocate on behalf of our members to enable the bill to be passed as soon as possible.”

Association of Financial Advisers chief executive Phil Kewin told his members in a note sent out after the Senate vote that despite the amendment the tone and direction of the debate in parliament has been encouraging.

“We can take some positives from what happened in the Senate this morning, which was that all speakers spoke in favour of the extensions to the FASEA deadlines and they have in fact voted for these important extensions. We heard speakers discuss the impact on financial advisers and demonstrated empathy for the position that financial advisers are in,” Kewin said.

“Collectively, we have been successful in conveying the message of the importance of these extensions for advisers. Now we need the parliamentary process to deliver this outcome as soon as possible.”

In May, Kewin indicated that if a parliamentary solution could not be found, ASIC could provide an exemption for advisers, which would in effect create an extension to the time required to complete the exam.

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