The future of corporate regulation in Australia
An address by Jillian Segal, Deputy Chair, ASIC, to the 18th Annual Company Secretaries' Conference, Surfers Paradise, 19 November 2001.
Thank you for inviting me to join you today. A conference on corporate regulation and governance is of course most timely as we begin to experience what appears to be the downside of the economic cycle. A number of high profile collapses such as HIH, One.Tel, Harris Scarfe, and more recently Ansett, of course, also focuses ones attention on governance issues.
Before I discuss governance and related issues, I would like to acknowledge the importance which ASIC places on its relationship with Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA) and its members. This importance is reflected in the CSA's involvement in groups chaired by ASIC – the CSA is, for example, represented on our Corporate Governance Roundtable Group, which has been focussing recently, at the request of the Minister for Financial Services and Regulation, on identifying ways of promoting better corporate governance, and particularly on increasing the level of retail participation in corporate governance activities. We are considering issues such as electronic voting processes and simplifying notices of meetings to make them more investor friendly.
You would have noticed the title of my speech in your Conference programs – 'The future of corporate regulation in Australia'. In the wake of the recent corporate collapses, the downturn in the economic cycle and the commencement of the Financial Services Reform (FSR) legislation, I am sure most of us would like to know exactly what the future holds for us! While, in light of September 11, I will not even seek to predict what next year will hold, I will certainly try to highlight some key issues on our present agenda. In discussing some of these issues, I will touch on some of our recent experiences, particularly in relation to disclosure, corporate governance more generally, the role of auditors and audit independence, the current regulatory challenges of globalisation, the transition to the new financial services disclosure and licensing regime under FSR, and our financial services consumer education strategy, which was only recently launched on the 25th of October this year.