Andre Moore

Treasury has taken the blame for drafting errors in the Delivering Better Financial Outcomes bill, insisting it had nothing to do with the government’s policy direction.

Speaking at public hearings into the DBFO legislation on Thursday, Treasury assistant secretary for advice and investments Andre Moore said there were two drafting errors, one being a “typographical error” which led to the  accidental killing of general advice commissions.

“That error was introduced into the bill inadvertently as we sought to respond to feedback that we received at the exposure draft stage that indicated that aspects of that exposure draft didn’t fully meet the policy intent,” Moore said.

“We addressed that issue and unfortunately introduced that error. As soon as that was drawn to our intention, we and the government immediately moved to address that issue.”

While Treasury took the blame for the error, Moore conceded that the bill was checked by the office of Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones.

“This is not an error of the government’s making, this is an error of [an] official’s making,” Moore said.

“In our final checks of the bill it was Treasury and ASIC [who] collectively missed that error and it was only when it was drawn to attention by stakeholders did we see it and immediately move to address it.”

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg questioned ASIC Commission Alan Kirkland on whether the regulator saw the drafting error to which Kirkland responded that ASIC only became aware of it after it was tabled in Parliament and then reported in the media.

“I became aware of the drafting error when I saw media reports of it,” Kirkland said.

Questioned by Bragg on whether it was appropriate for ASIC to review the bill, Treasury’s Moore said it was  standard process.

“One of those clearance process steps is a final quality assurance step with ASIC as well,” Moore said.

“Where there is legislation that has provisions that might be administered by ASIC, ASIC is consulted on the development of those provisions.”

Moore said it was appropriate for ASIC to be part of the review process and to have the ability to provide feedback to make sure the legislation delivers on the policy intent and is also administrable, which shocked Bragg.

“Wowsers, I’d have to say I’m surprised to hear that,” Bragg said.

“I wonder if they’d be better at law enforcement if they weren’t spending time talking about how new laws might be created.”

While issues around having a single prescribed fee consent was picked up in the draft legislation before it was tabled in parliament, the government elected not to enshrine a specific form into law, instead leaving it to ministerial discretion.

“The reason why the form itself is not written into the primary law is to allow for flexibility, both in the design and the evolution of that form over time so it creates that opportunity for it to flex and respond to changing circumstances in the future,” Moore said.

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