Get ready for a lending boom

by Ryan Smith25 Sep 2020

In an effort to inject an “adrenaline shot” into the economy, the government is set to abolish lending laws imposed on banks during the Global Financial Crisis.

About 100 pages of regulation will be scrapped in order to help push billions of dollars in locked-up credit back into the economy, The Australian reported. Following warnings from the Reserve Bank of Australia that banks were becoming too wary of lending, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg plans to ease the liability on banks over bad loans, shifting responsibility to the borrower. However, the government has also pledged greater protections for vulnerable borrowers who are at risk from extortionist loan conditions from payday lenders.

Small businesses will be the first to benefit from the deregulation, according to The Australian. But home buyers will likely be among the biggest winners, with reduction of approval times and the scrapping of lengthy inquiry processes by banks that the Reserve Bank said had become too “risk averse.”

With the deregulation, banks would still be accountable to the regulator and would continue to conduct their own risk assessments of prospective borrowers. However, they would not be required to meet the extra layers of scrutiny that, under current laws, made them responsible for the intentions and capacity of the borrower, The Australian said. That extra layer of red tape has made banks less willing to lend out of concern they would be held liable for borrowers’ inability to pay a loan.

Under the new obligations, which will require legislation to be enacted, lenders will be able to base their assessments on information provided by the borrower, and the borrower would be held accountable for giving the lender accurate information, The Australian reported.

“The Morrison government is implementing the most significant reforms to Australia’s credit framework in a decade to increase the flow of credit to households and businesses, reduce red tape and strengthen protections for vulnerable consumers,” Frydenberg said.

Writing for The Australian, Frydenberg said that lending laws had become so absurd that borrowers were often forced to justify their discretionary spending even on such minor expenditures as a Netflix account.

“The burden of regulation has been increasing and with it has come more obstacles for the consumer making it harder for them to access credit,” Frydenberg wrote. “From what started a decade ago as a principles-based framework to regulate the provision and consumer credit has now evolved into an overly descriptive, complex, costly, one-size-fits-all regime.”

Frydenberg said that over the years, lenders have become “increasingly risk averse and overly conservative in their approach.”

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said the reforms would be the most significant in decades. “This is a structural game-changer,” she told The Australian.