Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2780 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
This amendment inserts a new clause, clause 3A. I present the explanatory memorandum for the amendment. The Government amendment is designed to exempt banks from Part II of the Bill. Part II creates a registration scheme for credit providers in the ACT. Under Part II, clause 6 states that a person cannot provide consumer credit in the ACT unless they are registered. Mr Speaker, as the Bill stands, there is no exemption for banks. Therefore, Part II purports to require banks to be registered under this arrangement before they are allowed to provide credit in the ACT. Originally, it was envisaged that banks and other financial institutions would be subject to the same requirement of registration. In our view, that would have created a level playing field for all participants in the credit market. However, this requirement has been found to be directly inconsistent with the Commonwealth's Banking Act 1959, and accordingly the Government amendment exempts banks from the requirement of registration and removes this inconsistency.
I regret that in many ways. I think it would have been appropriate to bring banks and other credit providers into the same catchment. Clearly, the differences between banks and other institutions is disappearing fast. Indeed, the Assembly recently passed legislation which removes the discrimination against other financial providers with respect to holding accounts under legislation and so on. I trust that a continuation of that trend will be possible, notwithstanding on this occasion our inability to bring banks within the purview of our own credit legislation.
MS FOLLETT (12.25): I agree with Mr Humphries that this is a most unfortunate amendment to have to introduce into the legislation. I would have infinitely preferred the banks and non-bank financial institutions to be on exactly the same footing in relation to consumer protection in the credit laws. However, I accept that you cannot have a piece of ACT legislation which is totally inconsistent with the Commonwealth Banking Act 1959. Regrettably, on this occasion anyway, it is the ACT that has given way, not the Commonwealth Banking Act. I have very little doubt, Mr Speaker, that this amendment was insisted upon by the banks themselves, rather than discovered by the Government or the Consumer Affairs Bureau. It is very much to be regretted that the banks still wish to put themselves beyond the credit laws, which I believe are well accepted within the community as very necessary. I hope that the banks will not find that consumers are expressing greater confidence in, and therefore taking greater business to, the non-bank financial institutions. Mr Speaker, I accept the need for this amendment put up by Mr Humphries. I suppose the black-letter law demands it, but I think it is regrettable that we cannot have all of our potential credit providers included under the one umbrella.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.