Since 2005, the proportion of households in financial difficulty has increased from 23.5 to 31.8%, according to a digital financial analysis report commissioned by the Consumer Action Law Center. Fifteen percent of those who borrowed found themselves in a debt spiral that led them to bankruptcy.
Consumer leasing companies have also become increasingly proactive, handing out fake $ 50 bills with real $ 50 rewards in Indigenous communities to encourage families to buy loans on worthy televisions. up to 400% of their value.
The contracts with Local Appliance Rentals seen by Fairfax Media show that welfare recipients were signed for consumer leases in a remote area of Western Australia worth up to five times their price. origin.
In one case, an air conditioner and a table and chair set valued at $ 1,650 were rented for $ 6,000 over two years.
Payments are guaranteed by the company’s direct access to social benefits via the Centrepay system.
Broome Circle financial adviser Alan Gray said the practice “ensures that government money gets by the way of the consumer and completely eliminates the possibility of not getting paid.”
Figures obtained by Fairfax Media under freedom of information laws show that more than 12,000 companies have been approved for Centrepay access.
“In a nutshell, would you pay $ 4,500 for a $ 1,000 refrigerator?” said Mr. Gray.
“It is an extraordinary form of exploitation which is invisible to the people who sit on this legislation.”
Former Deputy Treasurer Josh Frydenberg first published the terms of reference for a review of the legislation in August 2015. Four ministers in 1,046 days have been tasked with the review since.
Among them is Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who described an 800% mark-up on a loan he considered “unbelievable” and pledged to push through the legislation by the end of 2017.
The exposure draft of the legislation released in October has not been formally discussed among government lawmakers since February. He sought to introduce a cap on leases equal to the base price of the property plus 4% per month and to allow only leases and short-term loans to represent 10% of a client’s net income.
Consumer Action Law Center policy director Denise Boyd said that while politicians fiddle, the industry “makes a lot of money with the people who have the least financial resilience.”
“The consultation is over, the exposure draft is over, it is absolutely critical that this legislation be presented and passed,” she said.
Labor submitted the coalition’s own legislation to parliament in March, but not a single coalition MP stood up to support it after internal pressure from a group Labor called ‘parliamentary friends of the loan. on salary ”.
Labor Finance spokesman Jim Chalmers accused the government of abandoning “the most vulnerable in our community.”
“Overall, the payday lenders‘ promises do not match the scams and the damage they are inflicting on communities like mine across the country,” he said.
Liberal MP Jason Falinski said the “Friends of Parliament” label was “a huge hype”.
Coalition MPs are worried about the 10% threshold available for short-term loans, he said, which could lead to the closure of short-term lending companies and the layoff of thousands.
“People with low incomes need access to credit to be able to buy things like refrigerators and washing machines,” he said.
“This includes people who have children and who may have had to leave an abusive situation quickly.”
The MP for Mackellar said he had no concerns about the emergence of automatic loan machines.
“You’ve always been able to get cash advances on your credit card,” he said. “Should we shut down the credit card business? “
Many short-term credit contracts can have an annual interest rate of 60 percent, compared to up to 25 percent for credit card cash advances. CashNgo charges a 20% fee and 4% monthly interest.
National Credit Providers Association president Rob Bryant said the proposed 10 percent cap had caused “a lot of grief” and that the current 20 percent threshold would allow other reforms to garner broad support .
“The horror stories about consumer leases are just not relevant,” he said. “You don’t want cowboys in your industry.”
Deputy Treasurer Michael Sukkar – who assumed responsibility for the legislation in December – said the government “is currently considering submissions following public consultation” and will move the bill forward later this year.
Local Appliance Rentals declined to comment.