4 April 2020
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Has anyone heard of the AFCA?

The Turnbull Government is failing marketing 101

Peter Switzer
21 May 2018


Malcolm Turnbull and his team certainly need a “Come to Jesus” moment. I don’t know, however, if their hubris (an infliction that most politicians lured to Canberra suffer from) can be overcome.

Their misguided self-belief is so problematic, they don’t even know how to sell what they’ve got going for them. How do I know they have a marketing problem?

Well, appearing on the Beattie and Newman show on Sky News last night, the excessively politically savvy Graham Richardson was filling as host. As the co-hosts wanted to talk about super changes and the Royal Commission, I mentioned that I think we need a consumer claims tribunal, funded by the financial sector. Consumers could then take bad behaving finance businesses to a mediator, with no lawyers involved and their case could be heard, decisions made and penalties imposed.

The best way to change a financial institution’s behaviour is to show them that an objective Aussie, called a mediator, is appalled by their actions. Eventually, the continued losses in the tribunal, say from charging dead people fees, would mean they’d have to change their behaviour.

I’ve written about this before on this website and by chance I bumped into the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, in Melbourne airport and told him of my idea.

Scott surprised me when he said they have set up AFCA (the Australian Financial Complaints Authority). I had to confess I’d never heard of it! With Scott being an old economics student of mine in my UNSW days, I couldn’t help but say: “Mate, you need to improve your marketing because I’ve never heard of AFCA.”

I followed up by inquiring about AFCA with a government operative, who passed on my details to people in Kelly O’Dwyer’s office. No one has contacted me so far to explain about AFCA.

But this isn’t just an “ignore Switzer” thing, as the host of The Outsiders, Ross Cameron (an ex-Liberal MP) told me last night at Sky that he’d never heard of AFCA! And it gets worse when Richo and Campbell Newman both said they’d never heard of it either!

Richo was flabbergasted. He watches politics daily. He said he was going to Google it in the ad break!

The Royal Commission’s revelations haven’t been good for the Government as they weren’t keen on the idea but coming up with a good solution like AFCA (you’d think) would be something they’d want to market.

The sad news out of Canberra today is that Senator Pauline Hansen and her One Nation party have back-flipped and now won’t support the Government’s company tax plan.

This reliance on the weird and wild Senate that features unusual Australians like Pauline and Derryn Hinch (we used to have Jacqui Lambie before the foreigner detection witch hunt got rid of her) has made political achievement hard for the Coalition.

Senator Hansen was opposed to the cut in company tax from 30% to 25% but changed her mind when the Government said they would introduce a $60 million apprenticeship plan.

She said the failure of the Government to get the tax through and the fact that the people don’t support it were the reasons for her change of heart! She probably thinks tax cuts for banks won’t pass the voter sniff test (a line Labor has been running with) so it’s not a smart one to support.

While Pauline has her reasons for being a welcher, the Government’s failures mean it looks likely we could see a future PM called Bill Shorten, despite his plans to shorten super pay-offs for retirees (pun intended) and to make life harder for property investors.

With Bill, it will be hard to do well with super, with the banning of tax refunds for retirees. And if you want to get rents from investment properties outside of super, there’ll be ‘wealth-killing police’ stopping you, as Bill will kill negative gearing.

Malcolm and his team have done well selling the Budget but they need to get their tax plan through Parliament. They have to not only market to us but also to the likes of Pauline.

I’ve noticed the Government’s marketing failures on many occasions but the missed opportunity was when Bill promised to take tax refunds off retirees. That’s when the Government could have reminded retirees that their beloved grown up, voting children needed to know if Bill gets his way, their inheritance will be shrunk.

I worked out that response when a worried retiree at a conference publicly asked me what they could do?

I said, “Get political and market your concerns to the people who love you and the future wealth you’ll leave them!”

This is marketing 101.


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