Thursday, 20th March 2014

TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM

"It was no surprise whatsoever that Arthur Sinodinos stood aside on Wednesday," said Phil Coorey. "As a former chief of staff to John Howard, (Sinodinos) helped write the script on how to cauterise such problems."

It is true that the Sinodinos affair has been a major distraction for the government. Its Repeal Day went largely unnoticed by the general public. It introduced legislation to cut more than 10,000 basically redundant "red tape" laws and regulations, yet was swamped instead by ICAC news.

But on one regulatory change the government may have welcomed the distraction. Somewhat ironically, it is the Sinodinos-engineered 'reforms' to financial services regulations that are proving most controversial.

Financial counsellors, consumer organisations and victims of past financial collapses are all angered by the government's proposed wind-back of consumer protection laws for financial advisers.

The proposed changes will allow financial advisers to provide advice that's in their own best interest, rather than the client's. 

But the big winners from the proposed regulatory changes will be the banks. As Alan Kohler says, they will be able, via commissions, to once again use financial planners like mortgage brokers, "flogging investment products instead of loans."

Arthur Sinodinos was employed until recently by both National Australia Bank and investment bank Goldman Sachs JBWere – in addition to his work with Australian Water Holdings.

Perhaps it's best from the government's perspective that he isn't out spruiking his reforms this week.

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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ICAC probe claims Sinodinos

"Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared Arthur Sinodinos will return to the ministry after the senator stood down as assistant treasurer in the face of a ­corruption inquiry, disrupting the government’s budget plans in the process. Following the first ministerial scalp of the Abbott government, Labor switched its pursuit to Mr Abbott’s judgement and handling of the matter."

No surprise in Sinodinos departure

"As a former chief of staff to John Howard, the now former assistant treasurer helped write the script on how to cauterise such problems. Convinced of his innocence, he still knew that each day he stayed in the job while the ICAC hearings unfolded, the focus of the Parliament would be on him and Tony Abbott’s refusal to stand him down."

AlsoArthur Sinodinos: tricky politics can't hide substance of allegations (Lenore Taylor)

South Australia election: Key independent Geoff Brock indicates leaning toward Labor

"One of the independents who might determine which side governs in South Australia has given a strong indication he could support Jay Weatherill as premier and deliver Labor a fourth consecutive term in power."

Banks get green light instead of red tape

"Banning sales commissions and other conflicted remuneration to financial planners was never a red tape burden – it was the outlawing of a corrupt practice that has cost consumers billions of dollars and lowered trust in the entire financial advice industry."

AlsoTony Abbott's proposed financial advice red tape cuts 'could raise risk' (Peter Martin, The Age)

The abortion debate isn't over yet

"Think that abortion law is a settled issue in this country? Imagine that a woman's right to choose is a principle guaranteed by law and long practice? Well, you'd be wrong in substantial part across the Commonwealth, and the drift of contemporary politics seems certain to make abortion a continuing and critical issue of deep political contest."