The Quality of Advice Review consultations currently being undertaken by the Federal Government are receiving less than rave reviews from industry participants, and, frankly, they are right to be miffed.

What should be a consultation process that ought to provide government with feedback on which it should act appears to be perfunctory, mechanical, and consultation only for show.

Complaints from various sources indicate that suggestions for improvements or concerns are not being taken as seriously as industry participants believe they should, and this is never good news for any government seeking to reform financial services regulation, taxation or any part of the professional services sector.

Any prudent government should aim to ensure that consultation processes allow for fair and reasonable feedback to be provided and acted upon to ensure that the law is both good law, practical law, and that the law ultimately has the buy in of those impacted by it.

This is actually the kind of practice the government itself requires of its public services through the work of the Office of Impact Assessment.

The OIA is probably of more interest to regulatory nerds than general folk, but it plays an important role in setting guidelines for policy impact assessment.

It sets out the need to consult stakeholders impacted by a proposed law, and, more importantly, sets down the rationale for consultation in readable terms.

A consultation such as the one financial services professionals have been involved in, for example, has the purpose of fleshing out various concerns from a sector. It is about getting further feedback from a sector as a legislative proposal is more refined, but the impact analysis guide does make the point that dissenting views need not be incorporated into final proposals.

“Agencies should explain the objectives of the consultation process and the context in which consultation is taking place – be careful to explain when and how the final decision will be made and what is and is not on the table,” the policy impact analysis guide said.

“Feedback should be welcomed and responded to, even if it is not adopted. Dissenting views need not be accommodated, as long as they are dealt with respectfully.”