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On 26 May 2014 the government released a discussion paper on improvements to the unclaimed moneys provisions: Acting Assistant Treasurer’s media release, 26 May 2014.

The discussion paper is entitled Options for improving the Unclaimed Bank Account and Life Insurance Money Provisions.

The Commonwealth Treasury invites submissions on the issues in the discussion paper. The closing date for submissions is Friday, 11 July 2014.

In the 2012-13 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) the previous government announced changes to the treatment of unclaimed money in relation to unclaimed bank accounts, unclaimed life insurance money, unclaimed first home saver accounts, lost superannuation and unclaimed company moneys. The 2012-13 MYEFO measures reduced the period before bank accounts and unclaimed life insurance amounts are transferred to the government through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission from seven years to three years.

These were the most significant changes to these arrangements since their introduction in the Banking Act 1959 (Cth).

The unclaimed money provisions are ultimately aimed at preserving the value of potentially “lost” bank account and life insurance moneys, however it is not clear that the current arrangements strike an appropriate balance between re-uniting people with their moneys and the regulatory costs that the recent changes have imposed on account holders and industry.

The Treasury is seeking input from stakeholders on what changes they believe could be made to the provisions to better achieve this balance.

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