SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER
Minister for Finance
Minister for Women
Minister for the Public Service
Date: Monday, 21 November 2022
MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: Let's bring in the Finance Minister now. Katy Gallagher, good morning to you.
SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Good morning, Michael.
ROWLAND: So let's start with Buy Now Pay Later, how big or increasing a problem is this becoming for customers?
GALLAGHER: Well, I think we've seen it emerge as a very popular option for people, Buy Now Pay Later, and that's a good thing. We want people to have choices. But I think we're also seeing some, certainly some pressure on people in terms of, you know, getting into serious financial trouble with schemes like this. So, I think it is responsible for the Government to have a look at how it's, you know, how to regulate it or how to put some guardrails around it, make sure that consumers are safe and you know, people are starting to see it as a credit card whether or not it should be included under the credit card regulation, so under the credit code, I think, to give people some protections and also put some responsibility back on the providers about ensuring that people are able to afford to get into the contracts that they're entering into.
ROWLAND: Are there cowboys out there in terms of providers, providers actively seeking to rip off people?
GALLAGHER: I'm not sure it's done in that way, but you know, there's sort of responsible lending approach. You know, when you've got that responsibility on you, you have to go through and do more checks and understand people's financial situations more than just agreeing to enter into this Buy Now Pay Later and that's the situation. Certainly if you talk to consumer representatives in the financial sector they'll say they're seeing more and more people who are getting into strife with Buy Now Pay Later. So it's obviously a popular option. It's responsible to have a look at how it's regulated and how people are using it, what some of the problems are, and how to provide that protection to people.
ROWLAND: How quickly could we expect to see some change in this area?
GALLAGHER: Well, I think so, yes, I think that's the whole purpose of putting out a paper, having that discussion, talking with stakeholders. I think, you know, we see, your laws have to amend to what you're seeing happen, particularly in the financial sector. We saw that with the Royal Commission into banks and, you know, this is a logical step on from that. I think, again, it's popular, it's being used, but there's some pressure there and people are getting into strife. So we have to look at that.
ROWLAND: Okay, Parliament's back for what could be the final fortnight of the year. For the Senate, perhaps not if the industrial relations legislation negotiations continue. I want to ask you firstly, where are negotiations at with the key independent Senator, David Pocock?
GALLAGHER: Well my understanding, Michael, is that Tony Burke continues to talk to all members of the crossbench who are wanting to engage. It's coming, obviously coming to the Senate. We've got a packed fortnight of legislation to get through, it's going to be a pretty wild ride in the red chamber this fortnight, I think, and looking at how we can progress industrial relations is a key priority for the Government. So Tony Burke will continue to talk, to negotiate, I know the Senate Committee will report this week. I think they've got an additional hearing into that bill, then they'll report and then hopefully we'll be able to progress the bill in the second week. In the first week we've got a whole lot of other legislation to get through.
ROWLAND: Okay, and the Prime Minister has made it clear over the weekend he's prepared to have Parliament or the Senate sit longer than the scheduled two weeks. You're the Manager of Government Business there. How long could you be sitting if there's no resolution at the end of week two?
GALLAGHER: Well, we are looking at extra hours or days in the Senate. Obviously we can't do that on our own. We don't have the majority vote in the Senate. So we're negotiating again with the crossbench around that. I think there's an acknowledgement that, you know, it's our job to sit and pass laws. We've got a lot of laws to get through and not a lot of time, so I expect the Senate will sit additional hours. But you know, that's all subject to negotiation, as is everything in the Senate. So there'll be lots of that unfolding over the next few days.
ROWLAND: What's the prospect in your view on legislation setting up the anti-corruption body getting through this current session?
GALLAGHER: Well, that's on our list, Michael. So we are, again, hopeful that we can reach agreement. There's some bills in the Senate, obviously, where they're not controversial, where people would like to debate but they want to see them passed and I get the feeling on the National Anti-Corruption Commission that senators do want to see that legislation passed this year. So that's, that's in a pretty good space. We've just got to make sure that we've got time to debate it and get it done along the other legislative priorities of which industrial relations is obviously going to be a main focus.
ROWLAND: Could be a wild ride, indeed, as you say Senator, for the next couple of weeks and beyond clearly. Katy Gallagher, always appreciate your time. Thank you.
GALLAGHER: Thanks for having me on, Michael.
Pat Cronan 0432 758 224 | Gallagher.Media@finance.gov.au