Labor will give Australians the legal firepower they need to take the fight to the banks with a $120 million contribution over four years from the Banking Fairness Fund to expand the financial rights legal assistance sector from 40 lawyers to 240 lawyers across Australia.
Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann MP, said the funding of $30 million per year will be ongoing, and will provide stable funding for the sector as recommended by Commissioner Hayne.
The 200 extra financial rights lawyers will assist victims of bank and financial service provider misconduct by providing legal advice and running complex cases in court and through the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
“When Australians face a fight with their banks, Labor will make sure they are not fighting alone,” Mr Neumann said.
This follows on from Labor’s recent announcement of a $640 million Banking Fairness Fund supported by a $160 million per year contribution from Australia’s largest banks.
The Banking Royal Commission is a once in a generation opportunity to give Australians the ability to stand up for their rights against the big banks and their well-funded legal teams.
Mr Neumann said Labor will make sure that Australians don’t miss out on that opportunity.
“Labor is proud to support the hardworking financial rights legal assistance sector. Commissioner Hayne described the work that these lawyers do as a ‘necessity to the community’. Labor’s plan will allow them to assist more Australians than ever before.
“The 200 new lawyers will assist Australians to bring claims through AFCA seeking up to $2 million in compensation for financial and non-financial loss under new, improved compensation caps announced by Labor last week.”
“Labor will quadruple the previous $500,000 compensation cap for consumers and remove the $5,000 sub-cap for non-financial loss.
“This is another part of Labor’s plan to restore fairness to financial services.
Around 240,000 Australians are in need of financial rights legal advice every year, but the sector is currently only able to service about 30,000 people.
The 200 extra lawyers will be able to service an additional 150,000 Australians per year, dramatically increasing the total number of people assisted by the sector.
“Only Labor can be trusted to clean up the banks and stand up to the top end of town. Scott Morrison and the Liberals voted against the Banking Royal Commission 26 times, and they want to give the big banks a $17 billion tax handout.
“Labor called for a Banking Royal Commission, Labor fought for a Banking Royal Commission, and Labor will ensure that victims of bank misconduct have the support they need to fight for their rights,” Mr Neumann said.