Slomo Gets It Wrong Again On ASIC

Hot on the heels of Senator Brandis’ egregious mistake on the Australian Building and Construction Commission this morning, Scott Morrison has made a major error in Question Time today in his description of the powers of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

THE HON CHRIS BOWEN MP

SHADOW TREASURER
MEMBER FOR MCMAHON

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

 

SLOMO GETS IT WRONG AGAIN ON ASIC

 

Hot on the heels of Senator Brandis’ egregious mistake on the Australian Building and Construction Commission this morning, Scott Morrison has made a major error in Question Time today in his description of the powers of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

 

Betraying the government’s desperation to find a response to Labor’s proposal for a Royal Commission into misconduct in the financial services sector, Mr Morrison said today that:

 

What this Government did is it initiated a capability review into ASIC, because what those opposite don't seem to understand is that it's ASIC that has the powers and that has the authority to prosecute and investigate, including holding public hearings, including dealing with things in public and having general matters that they can investigate, as well as specific matters, and we initiated the capability review into ASIC.                                                                              - Scott Morrison, Question Time, Monday 18 April

 

Mr Morrison is dead wrong. ASIC cannot hold public hearings as part of an investigation.

 

The ASIC Act stipulates that “examinations must take place in private and the inspector may give directions about who may be present during it, or during a part of it”. In fact anyone present at examinations who has not been approved by ASIC can go to jail for three months.

 

Mr Morrison and Prime Minister Turnbull are trying to pretend ASIC can do the job of a Royal Commission. Not only is that claim a blatant misrepresentation, but it is coming from a government that cut $120 million from ASIC’s budget in a 12 percent reduction in ASIC's staff and diminishing its already strained capacity to deal with the frequent scandals in the banking sector.

 

ASIC cannot hold examinations of banking executives and employees in public, and it cannot conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into systemic problems into the banking sector. Importantly, it cannot examine its own effectiveness in enforcing existing law.

 

If this government is planning to announce a toothless ASIC-led investigation with the collusion of the banks, then it should own up to it.

 

But the Treasurer should get his facts straight first.

 

MONDAY, 18 APRIL 2016