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Current Inquiries

Small Business Loans Inquiry

Notice of Inquiry (Terms of Reference)

The Minister for Small Business, the Hon Michael McCormack MP, has tasked the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman with undertaking an inquiry into the adequacy of the law and practices governing financial lending to small businesses.

Pursuant to the terms of reference, the Inquiry will examine cases investigated by the Parliamentary Joint Committee (PJC) on Corporations and Financial Services in its report ‘Impairment of Customer Loans’, and will provide advice to government on any deficiencies around the regulation and practices of banks.

Scope of inquiry

The Minister has stated that, in undertaking the inquiry, the Ombudsman should:

  •  review a selection of the cases that have been identified by the PJC as unfair and ascertain whether there are any deficiencies in the regulation of authorised deposit taking institutions in lending to small business;
  • refer any matters identified in the review to the relevant authority for further consideration as necessary;
  • determine whether the regulatory deficiencies identified by the PJC, or additional deficiencies identified through the inquiry, are being addressed by subsequent Government and industry reforms; and
  • recommend whether additional reform measures should be implemented (legislation, regulations, guidance and practices) to ensure products perform in the way they should, taking into account that consumers have a responsibility to accept their financial decisions, including market losses, when they have been treated fairly, and any impact on the availability and cost of credit to small business.


The Ombudsman will provide the interim findings from this Inquiry to the Ramsay Review by early November 2016.  It is anticipated that the Ombudsman will provide a final report to the Minister by the end of November 2016.

The Government announced the separate Ramsey Review of the financial system’s external dispute resolution and complaints schemes on 8 August 2016.  The Ramsay Review will consider whether changes are necessary to deliver effective outcomes for users.  

How to contact the ASBFEO:

If you are a small business and/or family enterprise, or a financial institution, involved in the PJC inquiry, and would like to submit further information to the ASBFEO inquiry, please email

If you were not involved in the PJC inquiry and are a small business and/or family enterprise seeking assistance to help resolve a loans dispute, please email


Read the Minister’s media release

Read the ASBFEO media release


Small Business Loans Inquiry hearings - Videos and Transcripts