Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services - Opening statement - 27 August 2021

Opening statement by ASIC Chair, Joe Longo at the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, 27 August 2021, Parliament House, Canberra.

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Good morning Chair and Committee members.

I am joined by Deputy Chairs Karen Chester and Sarah Court, and Commissioners Cathie Armour, Sean Hughes and Danielle Press. Also appearing with us is ASIC’s Chief Operating Officer Warren Day, General Counsel Chris Savundra and Executive Director of Strategy Greg Kirk.

I will start by noting the publication of the Government’s Statement of Expectations for ASIC and our response in a Statement of Intent. Both statements were published on 26 August 2021 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.

In response, ASIC provided the Government with a Statement of Intent. It 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.

The Government will shortly announce the members of the Financial Regulator Assessment Authority (FRAA). 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.

To that end we have also released our new Corporate Plan, which outlines our priorities and actions for the next four years. I have also provided this 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 will work closely with industry to support the transition towards the new standards and will take a reasonable approach in the early stages of these reforms provided industry participants are using 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 concluding my opening remarks, 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 regulatory tools at our disposal, we will disrupt misconduct and drive quick, effective and proportionate regulatory outcomes.

I look forward to taking your questions.