Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7883

Mr IRONS (Swan) (17:27): I thank the member for Fadden for bringing this important motion to the House. I'm the chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, which has oversight of ASIC. I see the member for Burt in here, who is a member of that committee as well. On Friday we held a hearing with ASIC. One of the things I knew that Labor would come in here and talk about is the cuts. They are not cuts. I heard the member for McMillan in here today talking about honesty and truth and some stuff. Just to explain: one of the questions we asked ASIC on Friday—which the member opposite might be interested in, as he was the one who raised the cuts—was about the $26.1 million. He didn't actually mention the figure, but he talked about the budget. The $26.1 million is actually about the finishing of programs, which the ASIC staff confirmed. The head of ASIC confirmed that they were finishing off programs; they weren't cuts to their core budgets. And this happened back in 2012 when, under Labor, they finished the GFC funding program and cut $20 million. If you want to talk about cuts, Labor cut $20 million. Don't listen to what Labor say; watch what they do.

I will get back to the thrust of the member for Fadden's motion. It's timely that the member for Fadden put this motion forward, as I would like to update the House. As I said, we had the committee hearing on Friday. It was a great opportunity to meet Mr Daniel Crennan QC, who has a strong focus on enforcement action. I must also add that, after Friday's hearing, I'm confident the Mr Crennan's appointment as deputy chair of the corporate regulator will only strengthen ASIC's position as the corporate watchdog. I look forward to working with Mr Crennan in his role as deputy chair, as I'm sure the member for Burt will.

The coalition government is committed to ensuring ASIC has the powers and resources it needs. That's why the coalition government is injecting $70.1 million into ASIC to combat misconduct in the financial services industry and across all corporations for the protection of all Australian consumers. This is new funding which will bolster ASIC's enforcement capabilities and enable it to undertake regulatory activities and investigations so as to better deliver on its mandate of combating misconduct in corporations and in the financial services industry. The additional funding follows a decision by ASIC's new chairman, James Shipton, to refocus ASIC's strategic direction on proactive enforcement and increase onsite supervision. This is the key. We need to maintain confidence in our corporate regulator. We need to know that they have the resources they require to ensure corporate misconduct is investigated and penalties are enforced.

At the hearing on Friday, I spoke briefly about the need for mum-and-dad investors to have that confidence, and I referred to the case of LWP Technologies. I know ASIC are currently investigating the company and its directors. In the interim, there are investors who have been left financially devastated by people doing the wrong thing. There need to be consequences. Every Australian needs to have the confidence in ASIC to deliver on this.

I'd like to speak further on the $70.1 million the coalition government is investing in ASIC. The package of measures includes: $26.2 million to accelerate and increase the intensity of ASIC's enforcement activities and enhance its capacity to pursue actions against well-funded litigants for serious misconduct, through the Enforcement Special Account; $9.4 million to boost supervision of the superannuation sector by strengthening audit and enforcement action to improve transparency and outcomes for superannuation members, which, as you know, Deputy Speaker Gee, is sorely needed; $8 million to implement a new supervisory approach in respect of Australia's five largest financial institutions, the big four banks and AMP, by, for the first time, embedding dedicated staff within these institutions to monitor governance and compliance actions; $6.8 million to establish a dedicated task force which will conduct a proactive, targeted and thematic review into corporate governance to identify and pursue failings in large listed companies, including deploying staff to conduct new onsite surveillance and investigations; $6.6 million to implement the government's reforms to whistleblower protection laws, so that ASIC can better receive, assess, triage and address whistleblower disclosures about misconduct; and $6 million to promote Australia as a world leader in the development and adoption of regulatory technology solutions for the financial services industry.

ASIC are an important part of our financial sector in Australia. They need to be a strong cop on the beat, as the member for Fadden said. I wish them all the best in pursuing their duties and their obligations to the Australian community.