House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics - Opening statement - 10 September 2021

Opening statement by ASIC Chair Joe Longo at the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, 10 September 2021, Parliament House, Canberra.

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I am pleased to be able to appear before the Committee for the first time in my role as Chair of ASIC. My colleagues and I welcome the opportunity to answer your questions.

Let me start by welcoming the Government’s announcement of members of the new Financial Regulator Assessment Authority (FRAA). The individuals appointed by the Government bring a wealth of experience to the tasks assigned to them.

I look forward to working collaboratively with FRAA to evaluate ASIC’s effectiveness and capability, and to ensure ASIC operates consistently with the Government’s Statement of Expectations, which was published on 26 August 2021. In response, ASIC released its response in a Statement of Intent on the same day and I have forwarded copies to the Committee Secretariat.

The Statement of Expectations clearly states Government’s desire for ASIC to contribute to the Government’s economic goals. These include supporting Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and working closely with Government and Treasury in implementing policy reforms.

ASIC’s Statement of Intent commits us to supporting economic growth and recovery, takes an active and targeted approach to enforcement, focuses our action on the areas of greatest harm, and uses our enhanced range of regulatory tools to ensure Australians can participate with confidence in the financial system.

We also released our new Corporate Plan, which outlines our priorities and actions for the next four years. I have provided copies to the Secretariat.

The Corporate Plan is consistent with our Statement of Intent and highlights our external and internal commitments for 2021–25. During this period we will address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our regulatory activities and the firms we regulate.

With a raft of significant law reforms to commence in October 2021, ASIC continues to work closely with industry to support the transition towards the new standards. I have made it clear that ASIC will take a reasonable approach in the early stages of these reforms, provided industry participants use their best efforts to comply. However, where firms are not acting in good faith or where we detect conduct causing actual harm, we will not hesitate to enforce the law.

Such an approach will help ensure that consumers and investors reap the long-term benefits of these reforms.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate the important role that ASIC must continually play in promoting economic recovery and confidence in the financial system, especially in the face of the ongoing pandemic. I will ensure ASIC continues to take opportunities to support businesses through more efficient methods of regulation.

At the same time I will ensure ASIC remains vigilant in protecting consumers and investors from harm. By using the full suite of enforcement tools at our disposal, we will disrupt misconduct and drive quick, effective and proportionate regulatory outcomes.

Last updated: 10/09/2021 12:00