The Minister for Financial Services and Regulation
21 October 1998 - 26 November 2001
The creation of the Minister's portfolio recognises the growing importance of financial services to the Australian economy. Financial services trade is Australia's third-largest services export, worth more than $1 billion a year.
The Minister's portfolio is aimed primarily at securing Australia's future as a centre for global financial services. Australia has many strengths that contribute to its position as such a centre, including:
- strong external transport links;
- a world-class telecommunications network;
- strong international language skills;
- a quality of life, the envy of the world;
- high-quality staff with a diverse skill base; and
- some of the world's best corporate and prudential regulation.
The Minister will seek to capitalise on these strengths in the period ahead. In particular, he is developing strategies to secure Australia's position as a centre for global financial services.
The Minister also has responsibility for implementing the second stage of the Wallis Financial Sector Inquiry, which covers setting up a new framework for financial and banking regulation. Among other things, this includes a new prudential regulation regime for deposit-taking institutions and the set-up of the Financial Sector Advisory Council, which advises the Government on financial sector issues.
The Minister's responsibilities in the financial system extend to design of laws relating to the prudential regulation of financial entities, the payments system regulation administered by the Reserve Bank of Australia, financial sector levies, cheques and bills of exchange; and administration of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
Consumer affairs is an important part of the Minister's portfolio, and as part of his charter, the Minister aims to promote self regulation, develop national consumer protection laws and protect consumers using electronic commerce.
A major part of the ministry relates to market integrity and consumer protection regulation. This involves design of laws for disclosure in the superannuation and insurance industries, and administration of conduct and disclosure aspects of insurance and superannuation laws.
The Minister is also responsible for consumer protection, especially as it relates to the Government's A Fair Deal: Consumer Affairs Policy . His consumer protection responsibilities also extend to education and product safety standards, including consultative arrangements with the States and industry bodies.
The Minister also has responsibility for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The ACCC is an independent authority, which administers the Trade Practices Act and the Prices Surveillance Act. It seeks to improve competition and efficiency in markets, foster adherence to fair trading, promote competitive pricing and restrain price rises in markets where competition is less than effective.
Competition policy is a major part of the portfolio, especially ministerial responsibility for the National Competition Council.
Companies and securities
The Minister also has responsibilities for companies and securities. This includes design of laws and regulations including the reform of the country's financial sector particularly updating Australia's corporate laws proposed under the Corporate Law Economic Reform Program.
CLERP involves a fundamental review of key regulation affecting business and investment. It aims to ensure business regulation is consistent with promoting a strong and vibrant Australian economy and providing a framework that helps business. The CLERP reforms are widely recognised as a providing the necessary launch pad to make Australia a leading global financial service centre.
The Minister's responsibilities extend to administration of companies and securities law as they relate to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and representation on companies and securities bodies such as the Ministerial Council for Corporations.
The Minister also has representational duties and administrative matters relating to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Housing Loan Investments Corporation, the Royal Australian Mint; and currency and coinage matters.