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Thursday, 18 June 2020
Page: 3612


Senator DUNIAM (TasmaniaAssistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism) (13:13): I want to thank Senator Brown for that thoroughly well thought through and very well researched contribution today. It never ceases to amaze me how on top of her brief Senator Brown is with regard to the legislation we deal with at this point on a Thursday. As a fellow Tasmanian, it makes me proud to see her really shine in here and present the opposition's point of view. Thank you, Senator Brown, for your contribution today.

It is a pleasure to rise and make a contribution in summing up the debate on the seven pieces of legislation before us, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Amendment (APRA Industry Funding) Bill 2020 and associated bills. As Senator Brown has indicated, the package we're dealing with here is broadly supported by industry. There has been a great degree of consultation undertaken in preparing this legislation and in the work that has led up to the creation of this package of bills. The bills we are debating here will ensure that there is a legislative framework for financial institutions' supervisory levies, and that they keep up with what is a fast-paced and ever-evolving industry. We have seen over recent years, through the royal commission and other associated Senate inquiries, just how much this industry changes, how dynamic it is and how swiftly things move in this place. It is important that we have a legislative framework and, indeed, support for regulators that does keep up with those fast-paced changes and events.

It is important to point out how much the recent events we have experienced in this country, and indeed globally, have highlighted how important larger institutions are in the financial services sector—I think you would agree, Mr Acting Deputy President Gallacher—and that it's absolutely critical that the amount of regulation applied here reflects the importance of those institutions. Through addressing legislative impediments, which is something I'm very, very passionate about—making sure we in this chamber don't impose regulation unnecessarily—we streamline what we do here, in order to unlock economic potential and investment and to create jobs. Particularly in regional communities like Tasmania, as Senator Brown would agree, we have to make sure legislative impediments and red tape—any regulatory burden—are only so much as they need to be, not any more, and not undue in their application.

By removing the legislative impediments, the bills will enable even the largest institutions to be levied their fair share of APRA's costs, which I think is right, to make sure that we get the balance right in relation to this. The bills will also ensure that there are no more deferrals of levies on those institutions that create the greatest regulatory burden. In turn, our country will see its prudential regulator appropriately funded in continuing to address financial stability, in protecting the Australian community. We need to make sure that there are appropriate resources available for this very important work, to ensure that those who need protection and the services of this regulatory authority do receive them. We need to make sure they are well resourced and they can act swiftly—going back to my initial comments about how dynamic this environment is, how fast changing it can be, and that they are able to keep up. So, appropriate resourcing is required, but, of course, striking a balance to ensure that we are not unduly burdening any entity, large or small, with too great a cost. Ensuring that these entities continue to operate is important, so the balance is important. It is only fair that all sizes of institutions pay their proportionate amount of the costs associated with running the entity we're talking about here.

As stated, industry has supported the changes that are being made through these bills. The amendments will provide certainty for many institutions during this very, very unfortunate and unprecedented coronavirus crisis. I think that's an important point to reflect on here. Industry is best placed to give us advice on how best we can proceed and how we can ensure that the future is clear for them. They can make decisions about how they operate and the costs associated with doing that. They can provide certainty to those entities they interact with—certainty is key and this legislation provides precisely that.

As the financial sector continues to evolve, the nature of regulation will also need to keep up the pace. Therefore, regulatory activities in regard to prudentially regulated institutions are required to be adept. This is the point I've been making through this contribution: we need to be nimble and agile. We can't wait years to respond to whatever set of circumstances it is that this sector is dealing with. We need to be able to respond swiftly to head off at the pass unintended consequences or things that may have an adverse impact on one part of the economy or another. The amendments will ensure the costs of regular regulatory activities, which the Commonwealth collects through APRA, can continue to be collected in a dynamic regulatory environment. Again, I commend Senator Brown for her thoroughly well-thought-through contribution to this debate and for her support of the bill, and indeed the opposition's support of the bill. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.