Five government policies you can have your say on in 2024
A number of policies and legislative changes are set to provide financial services companies with an opportunity to add their perspectives on key issues impacting public policy in 2024.
Timely commentary which indicates strong conviction can also help build a broader public profile for an organisation. There are different ways to participate in debate:
Expert comment: Providing quick, reactive comment in response to RBA decisions, the Federal Budget or Treasury announcements can generate prominent profile and help build a relationship with journalists.
Opinion pieces: Organisations with a strong opinion or insight on a topic can pitch opinion articles which build a lengthier argument. This approach also avoids the potential for remarks to be taken out of context.
Policy submissions: Providing a response to draft legislation, recommendations or a policy paper are a powerful way to take a position. These submissions are read not just by government decision-makers but also other industry influencers and journalists who often report on the content.
Talking directly with government: A growing number of companies are liaising directly with regulators and members of parliament to address their concerns. This can involve writing to or meeting with the relevant authority.
Below is a list of five key policies already firmly in motion, where you can use these action areas to position your organisation and have your voice heard this year.
- Implementing the Quality of Advice Review in full
The state of play: With the Government having now handed down its final response, the next step in the process is drafting legislation and seeking further industry feedback. This more complex process stems from the Government breaking down the reforms into multiple tranches to fast-track key recommendations. There has since been a flurry of media comment from people concerned that some changes – such as proposed amendments to adviser classifications and statements of advice – don’t meet the needs of consumers.What to expect in 2024: The first stage of the reforms have now been drafted and debate is expected to continue on the floor of Parliament from as early as February. The second stage of the reforms is likely to face further consultation and refinement in the first half of the year, with the hope for legislation to be debated before year end. As these amendments flow through, media commentary from both critics and supporters of individual changes is likely to continue.
- Providing regulation around cryptocurrency
The state of play: There were a number of efforts made by Parliament in 2023 to work towards regulating cryptocurrency in Australia, including a Private Members Bill by Senator Andrew Bragg and consultation papers by Treasury on token mapping and AFSL obligations. There was also an investigation into the potential for an RBA backed stablecoin.What to expect in 2024: There may be outcomes around the above in 2024. In particular, there could be a response from the Government on the recent consultation papers around token mapping and AFSL obligations in Q2 onwards. It may move higher on the Government’s list of priorities given the recent approval of Bitcoin spot ETFs by the SEC in the United States and the potential for the ASX to follow suit.
- Optimising superannuation as Australians live longer
The state of play: The Government has released a discussion paper seeking feedback on how the nation’s superannuation system can best provide income and security in retirement, particularly given our ageing population. The focus is on helping members navigate the retirement income system and supporting funds to provide better products and services.What to expect in 2024: The consultation period closes on 9 February 2024, meaning that a response from Treasury is likely towards the middle part of the year, pending competing priorities within the Government. From there, the Government can assess what regulatory updates and legislation may be required, and over what time frame, to enact these objectives. We expect to see a continued strong focus on decumulation phase / retirement income themes through 2024 and beyond.
- Finalising changes to super balances over $3 million
The state of play: Proposed changes to taxation continued to dominate media headlines in 2023, shifting from the adoption of the Stage 3 tax cuts, to the proposition of reducing the tax concessions available to individuals with a superannuation balance of over $3 million. Media interest has remained consistent on the latter issue, with critics claiming that the additional super taxation is unfair, particularly for unrealised capital gains.What to expect in 2024: The latter policy has now been referred to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for review, with submissions available to be made by the public until 23 February. From there, the Committee will review the findings and instigate further debate before handing down a final report by 19 April. Discussions around the Stage 3 tax cuts have already resurfaced in 2024, with the Prime Minister announcing the existing policy will be amended to prioritise low and middle-income earners. This will be of particular interest to those working in the financial advice and private wealth space.
- Formalising Australia’s Sustainable Finance Strategy
The state of play: The Government has now released Australia’s Sustainable Finance Strategy, which is designed to support our pathway to net zero by reducing the barriers to investment in sustainable activities. This has been a key policy area for the industry over the past few years and one which is likely to remain prominent as companies adopt transition plans which align with the Government’s ongoing commitment to reduce emissions across all parts of the economy.What to expect in 2024: On 1 December 2023, the consultation process was completed, meaning the Government may formalise its approach in the middle part of 2024. Given the sustained focus of Government bodies like ASIC on issues such as greenwashing, the focus on implementation may remain a key priority. As conversations around the importance of all aspects of the Australian economy committing to net-zero are continuing to increase, this policy area will likely remain front of mind for regulators.