ASIC: Friend or foe of business

An address by ASIC Chairman David Knott to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Perth, 9 July 2003.

It is a great pleasure to be back in Perth talking again with the AICD. A good deal of water has passed under the bridge since I last spoke here 14 months ago.

I share the concern of others that too much of the news about corporate Australia over that period has been bad. While we have had our problems, there is a tendency to take things out of context and to forget how much progress has been made since the 1980s in making our investment markets fairer and more transparent.

Indeed, I can track that process back to the formation of the National Companies and Securities Commission (the old NCSC) in 1980 and its inaugural Chairman Leigh Masel.

He was the first person I heard talk about the need to make our markets fairer and more transparent to retail investors. Remember this was long before the days of privatisation and demutualisation, which subsequently revolutionised retail participation in equities, But even then he foresaw the need for our markets to be opened to direct investment as the population aged; and he knew that this could not happen for so long as the market was the preserve of the privileged few.

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Last updated: 09/07/2003 12:00