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Monday, 21 June 2010
Page: 5932

Mr CLARE (Parliamentary Secretary for Employment) (5:43 PM) —I would like to thank all members who participated in this debate. The Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Prudential Refinements and Other Measures) Bill 2010 continues the legislative amendments made by the government to improve the efficiency and operation of a range of financial sector legislation. The bill is largely the result of a review of the prudential regulatory framework by APRA and Treasury. This review identified amendments necessary to strengthen APRA’s ability to effectively fulfil its mandate. This is consistent with developments overseas, where countries such as the UK and the US have sought to review and strengthen their financial regulatory arrangements.

The bill enhances the prudential regime by strengthening APRA’s powers to prevent prudential concerns arising and to deal with such concerns should they arise. Such powers are essential to maintaining confidence and stability in the financial sector. The powers are enhanced by addressing potential gaps and uncertainty in the present legislation which may affect APRA’s ability to fulfil its mandate. The bill also clarifies the operation of the Financial Claims Scheme provided for in the banking and insurance acts. It is important that the scheme’s operation is clear and consistent and that it is able to be effectively administered by APRA.

In addition, the bill amends the financial sector data collection regime. The amendments promote the flexibility of the regime and APRA’s role as a national statistical agency for the financial sector. In particular, the amendments ensure that the government and financial sector agencies can access the data they require to perform their functions.

Finally, the bill improves the financial sector levies regime in two respects: first, it improves the methodologies governing the determination of financial sector levies in response to the recommendations of the 2009 report of the review of financial sector levies and, second, it repeals five redundant levies’ related acts as part of the government’s ongoing commitment to reducing red tape.

An exposure draft of the bill was released for public consultation on 19 January this year. In response, a number of submissions relating to the bill were received. The majority of these submissions either supported or had no major concerns with the bill. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who made a submission in relation to the bill. Submissions were made by a variety of industry bodies and other interested parties, and the government values all of these contributions. As required by the Corporations Agreement 2002, the Ministerial Council for Corporations was also consulted and has approved the amendments in the bill to the national corporate regulation regime.

The bill implements important reforms to Australia’s financial sector legislative framework. In particular it ensures that APRA has the powers it needs to fulfil its mandate. This mandate includes being the prudential regulator administrator of the Financial Claims Scheme and the national statistical agency for the financial sector. It is an important mandate which promotes the financial wellbeing of all Australians. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.