Connect with us
Byron Bay News and Weather copy
The Northern Rivers News
Mt Warning News and Weather copy
The Northern Rivers Weekly Advertising
Kyogle News
The Northern Rivers Motoring News
Grafton News and Events copy
The Northern Rivers Funerals
The Northern Rivers WeeklyPuzzles
Byron Bay News and Weather copy
The Northern Rivers News
Mt Warning News and Weather copy
The Northern Rivers Weekly Advertising
Kyogle News
The Northern Rivers Motoring News
Grafton News and Events copy
The Northern Rivers Funerals
The Northern Rivers WeeklyPuzzles
Puzzles
previous arrow
next arrow

Business News

More than 400,000 complaints sent to AFCA in first 5 years

Published

on

David Locke, Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

More than 400,000 complaints sent to AFCA in first 5 years

 

Australian Financial Complaints Authority

Australia’s financial dispute resolution scheme has reached a major milestone – five years of operation. Consumers have taken more than 400,000 disputes to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) in that time, securing a total of $1.2 billion in compensation and refunds.

This was during some of the most trying times financial firms and their customers have faced, including a global pandemic, rising interest rates, a sharp escalation in scams activity and the financial impact of significant natural disasters.

Since starting operations in November 2018, AFCA has worked with more than 16,500 victims of scams, more than 7,500 people affected by natural disasters (excluding COVID), and more than 30,000 people experiencing financial difficulty. It registered more than 17,000 COVID-related complaints, helping to resolve disputes involving financial products such as travel insurance and superannuation.

In addition, AFCA’s systemic issues work – where it identifies wider issues than a single complaint – resulted in 4.9 million people receiving more than $340 million.

“We have dealt with hundreds of thousands of cases over the past five years, but we are fully aware that behind every complaint is an individual, a family or small business,” AFCA’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman, David Locke, said. “We know how stressful a financial dispute can be, and how critical it is to help consumers and firms resolve their differences.

“An ombudsman service also plays an important role in supporting public confidence in engaging with the financial services sector, because we are here to help when consumers and firms can’t resolve disputes on their own. We work to contribute to a fair and efficient financial services sector.”

David Locke, Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

David Locke, Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority

With complaints reaching a record 97,000 in the last financial year alone, AFCA’s services had never been needed more, Mr Locke added. “But our hope is that, working with firms, we will see a significant improvement in their in-house complaints handling. Consumers shouldn’t have to be escalating this volume of disputes to AFCA.”

He congratulated the 70 per cent of AFCA Scheme member firms that have never had a complaint reach AFCA. “While we will always point out areas of concern, to help inform consumers, firms, regulators and government, it’s important for the community to understand that the majority of financial firm members do not generate any complaints,” Mr Locke said.

Mr Locke said AFCA continued to be a cheaper and more efficient alternative to a court process for both firms and consumers. Over its first five years AFCA resolved 60 per cent of cases in less than 60 days – mostly by helping the two sides reach agreement. Only 6 per cent of cases needed to progress to a formal decision.

AFCA was set up after the 2017 Ramsay Review recommended the establishment of a single scheme to handle disputes formerly handled by the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

AFCA is a not-for-profit organisation funded by fees and charges paid by member firms. Its service is free for consumers and small business complainants.

A Treasury-led Independent Review in 2021 found AFCA was “performing well in a difficult operating environment and a changing regulatory landscape” and reaffirmed its impartiality and its fairness jurisdiction.

Key facts

AFCA was established on 1 November 2018.  The following data is as at 31 October 2023.

  • 402,346 complaints registered
  • $1.18 billion in compensation or refunds for consumers and small businesses
  • 68% of complaints resolved by agreement
  • 6% of cases progressed to a formal decision
  • 46,097 members of AFCA Scheme (10,494 firms plus 35,603 individual authorised credit representatives)
  • 69% of financial firm members have not had a complaint made against them

 

For more business news, click here.

Business News

NHVR launches operation to boost heavy vehicle safety in the construction industry

Published

on

By

NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

NHVR launches operation to boost heavy vehicle safety in the construction industry

 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.  

NHVR Chief Operations Officer Paul Salvati said the operation will commence this month and run for four weeks across NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, ACT, and TAS.

“Throughout the operation, we will prioritise education in the first instance to ensure operators and drivers have a clear understanding of the risks associated with non-compliance during heavy vehicle transport activities in the construction industry, and know how to manage them,” Mr Salvati said.

“Drivers and operators should always be practicing safe behaviours, such as implementing a daily check list to ensure the mechanical safety of vehicles, or utilising measuring devices, such as tape measures or height sticks, to confirm the vehicle and its load are within allowable dimensions.

“Managing safety risks can help prevent injuries and fatalities, avoid financial loss for the business, evade legal sanctions, enhance business reputation, and create a culture where informed safety decisions are made.”

Reflecting on last year’s construction focused national operation, Mr Salvati provided insights into the compliance outcomes.

NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

“In the last operation, from 1 March to 15 April 2023, the NHVR’s on-road officers inspected more than 1,200 vehicles, and we saw encouraging signs of compliance,” Mr Salvati said.

“Overall, 56.4 per cent of heavy construction vehicles were compliant across all HVNL categories, with especially high compliance across mass and loading.

“The results however, in the mechanical compliance category were indicative of the work we still have to do.

“Of the defective components identified, the most serious were in brakes, body and chassis, while others were found in lights and reflectors.”

Mr Salvati said the regulator is urging all operators and drivers working in the construction industry to keep safety front of mind.

“Heavy vehicle hazards in the construction industry traditionally include loads not being properly restrained, vehicles exceeding mass or dimension limits and of course, the mechanical safety of vehicles, especially heavy rigid truck, and trailer combinations.

“These may seem like standard risks, but they are amplified – especially on a construction site – by time pressures, constant loading and unloading, and the frequency of travel alongside other motorists on major roads and thoroughfares.”

Regulatory Advice for managing the risks of heavy vehicle transport activities in the construction industry can be found on the NHVR website.

 

For more business news, click here.

Continue Reading

Business News

Quinn Family Rescues Sara Lee from Administration

Published

on

By

Sara Lee

Quinn Family Rescues Sara Lee from Administration

 

By Jeff Gibbs

The Gold Coast family, renowned for their successful rescue of the Darrell Lea chocolate brand from receivership over a decade ago, has once again emerged as saviours, this time for the embattled dessert-food brand Sara Lee.

In a deal announced by the company’s administrators, a private company owned by Klark and Brooke Quinn has stepped in to acquire Sara Lee’s Australian and New Zealand business, offering a lifeline to the 200 jobs that were hanging in the balance since the company faced financial turmoil late last year. While the financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed, the agreement is seen as a beacon of hope for the struggling brand.

The administration of Sara Lee, led by Vaughan Strawbridge, Joseph Hansell, and Kathryn Evans of FTI Consulting, has been navigating the company through a challenging period marked by debts exceeding $50 million. Despite the financial strain, Sara Lee has remained an iconic brand and a category leader in the frozen desserts market. The commitment and dedication of both staff and consumers have played a pivotal role in sustaining the business during these turbulent times.

Reflecting on the journey, Strawbridge acknowledged the resilience of the Sara Lee team and expressed gratitude for their unwavering support throughout the administration process. He emphasised the importance of the brand’s legacy and its significance to both employees and customers alike.

Sara Lee

Sara Lee Apple Pie

The Quinn family, synonymous with success in the Australian business landscape, has a proven track record of turning around struggling brands. Having previously founded VIP Petfoods, Klark Quinn spearheaded the rescue of Darrell Lea in 2012, orchestrating a comprehensive restructuring that revitalised the confectionery business. Under his leadership, Darrell Lea experienced remarkable growth, with earnings nearly doubling to $23 million and annual sales exceeding $110 million by the time of its sale six years later.

With their acquisition of Sara Lee, the Quinns aim to continue their legacy of revitalising iconic Australian brands. Klark and Brooke Quinn expressed their pride in restoring the Aussie-made-and-owned stamp to the Sara Lee brand, reflecting on their fond memories of enjoying Sara Lee apple pie and vanilla ice-cream with their family. While their immediate plans for Sara Lee remain undisclosed, their successful offer underscores their commitment to preserving and enhancing the brand’s heritage.

Given the Quinns’ history of successful exits, it is plausible that they may pursue a private equity exit for Sara Lee in the future once the business is back on track. Over the past nine years, the family has orchestrated exit deals totalling $610 million with Quadrant Private Equity through the sale of VIP Petfoods and Darrell Lea. The acquisition of Sara Lee marks yet another chapter in their entrepreneurial journey, reaffirming their status as key players in the Australian business landscape.

It’s worth noting that the Australian-based Sara Lee manufacturing business operates under license from the global trademark owner, enabling it to operate in Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia, and the Middle East. As the Quinns embark on this new venture, they are poised to leverage their expertise and resources to steer Sara Lee towards a brighter future, ensuring its continued success for years to come.

 

For more business news, click here.

Continue Reading

Business News

December Retail Sales Dented by Black Friday and Cost-of-Living Pressures

Published

on

By

Black Friday

December Retail Sales Dented by Black Friday and Cost-of-Living Pressures

 

By Jeff Gibbs

The shift towards Black Friday sales and ongoing cost-of-living pressures contributed to a 2.7 per cent decline in Australian retail spending to $35.2 billion in December 2023, as per seasonally adjusted data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). However, in trend and year-on-year terms, there was a marginal increase.

According to ABS head of retail statistics Ben Dorber, the decline in December stemmed from reduced discretionary spending, as consumers moved their usual December expenditures to November to capitalise on Black Friday sales. This trend underscores the growing popularity of Black Friday events and the impact of financial pressures on consumer behaviour.

Despite the significant seasonally adjusted decline in December, retail turnover saw a slight 0.1 per cent increase in trend terms, indicating subdued underlying retail spending amidst volatile movements leading up to Christmas.

Black Friday

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) highlights a modest 0.8 per cent increase compared to December 2022, with department stores notably recording a 3.7 per cent growth. Other sectors, including other retailing, cafes, restaurants, and takeaway, as well as food, also experienced modest growth. However, clothing, footwear, accessories, and household goods saw slight declines.

While most states and territories saw year-on-year growth, New South Wales experienced a 0.6 per cent spending decline.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra attributes December’s results to the projected cautious Christmas spending due to budget constraints. He notes the impact of Black Friday on December trading, with many consumers opting for early gift purchases during the November sales event.

Despite challenges, department stores performed well in December, leveraging Boxing Day sales and promotional events leading up to Christmas.

Looking ahead, ANZ Research economists anticipate continued weak growth in the first half of 2024, with potential for improvement in the second half. Factors such as easing inflation, fiscal support, tax cuts, and a November rate cut are expected to support household incomes and boost spending later in the year.

 

For more business news, click here.

Continue Reading

Latest News

error: Alert: Content is protected !!
Verified by MonsterInsights