Australia broadens regulator ASIC’s capabilities

The Australian government has passed a law that will enhance the powers of the corporate regulator at a time when the country is caught in a series of financial scandals.

ASIC will have greater operational flexibility and and expressly consider competition in its decision-making processes. Also, as it has been removed from the strictures of the Australian Public Service Act it will be able to employ people on competitive market salaries.

Parliament passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing ASIC’s Capabilities) Bill 2018 effectively removing the obligation for ASIC to engage staff under the Public Service Act 1999.

The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg said this meant ASIC would be able to compete more effectively for suitable staff and would also allow the regulator to tailor management and staffing arrangements to suit its needs, ensuring it was fit for purpose to deliver effectively on its mandate.

The Treasurer’s confirmation of passage of the legislation came shortly after he had declared that the regulator had a case to answer for its handling of key issues which had been raised during the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, including financial adviser fee for no service.

ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell tendered his resignation after seven years in the role.

Frydenberg added the Bill ensures ASIC considers the effects its functions and powers will have on competition in the financial system.

Competition is critical in improving the performance of the financial system – it ensures both consumers and investors get value for money in the in financial products and services they use, he said.

Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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