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Friday, 12 March 2021
Winston Harris, Senior Consultant

When you listen to conversations about Climate Change, the common language used is ‘believe the science’.

There’s plenty of it and for most of us that’s good enough. We expect legislators to determine public policy based on this science.

There will always be a percentage of the population that doesn’t accept that science, but that’s OK. Enough of us do and importantly, so do enough legislators, ensuring that future energy and environmental policies will consider the science and take measures to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and lower our carbon emissions.

The challenge for legislators then is this – if you can shape policy based on the science of climate change then it would follow that you should follow the evidence or science-based principles to also shape policy in other areas of public policy, for example, in financial services policy.

Unfortunately, public policy in some parts of the financial services sector such as the small loans sector appears to be driven by ideological and political imperatives, rather than by science or the facts. Why is this so? Perhaps it’s because we humans are capable of being both rational and irrational.

Acting recently on behalf of a client, our task is to try to persuade legislators to make decisions based on the evidence rather than personal opinion which could be based on any number of personal factors.

Part of the issue small loans providers and the people who access them are facing is that policies currently under consideration by the Federal Government will make it much more difficult for financially excluded Australians to access credit for a small loan of under $2000 while at the same time another policy will make it easier for Australians who are not already financially excluded to borrow $200,000.

It doesn’t appear to make sense, especially when you realise that excluding people from these small, highly regulated loans which have a very high degree of consumer protection built in because they are regulated.

To my way of thinking, this is creating the worst kind of inequality by denying those who need it most access to regulated and safeguarded credit when it is desperately needed.

Baffled? Yep, so am I. Especially when the facts or the science is irrefutable. I guess this is a case of deciding based on personal choice or opinion rather than based on evidence.

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