Payday loan rules must be tightened, Joel Fitzgibbon says

CASHING THEM OUT: Federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon with John Barham, Intensive Support Worker at the Samaritans Foundation, and financial counsellor Graham Smith discussing the impact of the loans.
CASHING THEM OUT: Federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon with John Barham, Intensive Support Worker at the Samaritans Foundation, and financial counsellor Graham Smith discussing the impact of the loans.

PAYDAY lending rules need to tighten to halt a growing financial epidemic, Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon says, with 

“The ease of taking out a pay day lender loan and a failure to take into account a person’s ability to pay back the loan means financially vulnerable people are suffering,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“Those on very low incomes have little capacity to absorb financial shocks ... one of the obvious options is a pay day loan.”

A final report into the lending practice was released in March 2016. Mr Fitzgibbon said it was vital the government forged ahead with legislation. 

“The Minister has already said that the government supports the vast majority of the recommendations, in part or in full, so it’s time we saw some action to protect vulnerable Australian families,” he said. 

Hunter-based chair of the Financial Counsellors Association of NSW Graham Smith said the payday loans, as well as furniture rental schemes, could ensnare those in desperate circumstances.

He said there were rules working their way into legislation that could cap lenders’ ability to garnish wages at 10 per cent, half the existing rate. 

“We are basically being overwhelmed at the moment because there’s so many people that are doing it tough,” Mr Smith said. 

“Some clients get two or three of these loans in an hour, and they fall into a debt trap.” 

“They generally charge 48 per cent interest on lending, but within that 48 per cent there’s a lot of hidden costs,” he said. 

“If the person ends up in a debt cycle, it can increase to hundreds of per cent very quickly.”

Mr Smith urged anyone in dire financial straits to seek out the National Debt Help Line for free support rather than a paid advisor to improve their position. 

Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar said exposure draft legislation was released in late 2017 and submissions are now under consideration.

  • National Debt Help Line – 1800 007 007
  • moneysmart.gov.au