Newcastle Federal MP Sharon Claydon has called on the Turnbull Government to act on unscrupulous payday lenders preying on vulnerable Novocastrians.
Ms Claydon said she was contacted by a father who was angry to learn that his son had been approved instantly online for a loan that he would never be able to repay, without being asked for documentation.
“My constituent was understandably upset when his son was given a $175 loan despite the fact he suffers from mental illness, was living in a rehab facility, and relies solely on Centrelink for his income,” Ms Claydon said.
“Virtually as soon as the loan was set up, it had doubled through fees and charges. My constituent was forced to step in and pay it on his son’s behalf before it spiralled any further out of control.
“Australians are being forced to turn to payday lenders to meet the basic costs of living in increasing numbers – with 650,000 financially stressed households now holding a payday loan. We urgently need strict controls to prevent predatory lending practices that are driving people into poverty and despair.”
Ms Claydon said Labor is gearing up for a fight after signs the Government is preparing to retreat from its commitment to crack down on payday lenders and rent-to-buy schemes.
“In October last year, the Turnbull Government put forward draft legislation including new anti-avoidance measures to prevent payday lenders and rent-to-buy providers from circumventing the rules.
“Regretfully, intense lobbying by the payday lending industry has led to a revolt by extreme right wing members of the Government who have set up a ‘Parliamentary Friends of Payday Lenders’ group in active defiance of the Government’s commitment.
“The Turnbull Government’s continued lack of action on payday lenders is sending a clear message to shonky operators that they can get away with anything.”
Ms Claydon said Labor had been forced to respond by introducing legislation to the Parliament which mirrors the Government’s draft legislation word-for-word.
“Only a few months ago, there was a bipartisan position that regulation was needed to curb the predatory practices in these industries, but now the Government’s backing away,” Ms Claydon said.
“It’s time for Mr Turnbull to show some backbone and back vulnerable Australians over vested interests and the hard right of his party.”