The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Chris Bowen

Chris Bowen

Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law

9 June 2009 - 14 September 2010

Speech of 8/07/2010

NO.015

Remarks at the Opening of the New Sydney Office of the Australian
Securities and Investments Commission

Statement by the Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law,
the Hon Chris Bowen MP

8 July 2010

Introduction

Thank you Tony [D'Aloisio], and thank you for inviting me to the opening of ASIC's new Sydney home.

The building, I'm advised, is the largest in Australia to have undergone a 6 Green Star refurbishment, meaning it uses less power and less water.

Consumer Credit

ASIC's change of premises comes at a time when its responsibilities are changing too.

ASIC has had responsibility for the regulation of Australian credit markets since the 1st of July.

A reform – one national credit system – has been a long time coming, a long talked about reform.

It's a very important step in our efforts to promote a seamless national economy – a financial equivalent of a single railway gauge.

I know that ASIC has put in an enormous amount of preparatory effort for the transfer of credit supervision – and that effort has paid off and will continue to pay off.

So I want to take this opportunity to thank ASIC for that preparatory work and ongoing work that has gone with this transfer.

Transfer of Market Supervision

Of course, ASIC is also taking over the regulation of our financial markets.

Following the Governor-General's proclamation of the Financial Market Supervision Act earlier today, I can formally announce this evening that ASIC will assume responsibility for market supervision on the 1st of August.

I have spoken with industry bodies and market participants and they have uniformly expressed their confidence in ASIC's readiness to take on the new role.

Canadian regulator Maureen Jensen recently told me how impressed she and her colleagues were by ASIC's preparations and, in particular, the depth of experience and understanding in ASIC's ranks.  I would like to echo those sentiments.

I commend Tony, Belinda Gibson and the team responsible for getting ASIC to this point for their efforts, and especially for their close engagement with the industry.

ASIC has moved – and continues to move – closer to the market it regulates.

Belinda and Greg Yanco, I understand, are currently in Melbourne as part of ASIC's national market supervision roadshow, where the ASIC team is meeting with participants around the country.  This is representative of the work ASIC is doing to interact more with stakeholders.

This is a crucial time for our financial markets and the transfer of supervision is a big step, which has the potential to make those in and around the industry very anxious.

So it is so important – for the confidence of the industry – that we bring participants with us; that they recognise the change as being in the interests of the industry, rather than one imposed upon it.

For that reason, I want to highlight the good work of all of those who have been working hard to ensure this move is welcomed, not feared, by market participants.

I would also like to announce tonight my intention to approve ASIC's first set of market integrity rules, on which industry has been closely consulted.  These rules, together with the amended ASX and SFE operating rules – which I am pleased to announce I also intend to formally allow – will form the regulatory rule books for the new market supervision regime that will exist from the 1st of August.

By announcing my in-principle support for these rules tonight, I want to ensure that the industry has certainty about the rules that will be in place on the 1st of August.

Next month's change means that, while market operators will remain responsible for overseeing their own operating rules, ASIC will now be responsible for directly supervising trading activities by brokers, in addition to enforcing laws against market misconduct,.

The transfer of supervisory responsibility to ASIC should assist in speeding up the investigation process and further assist ASIC in keeping Australia's markets fair, orderly and transparent.

Concluding Remarks

So I wanted to be here tonight not only to open and welcome you to these new premises, but also to thank you for your efforts in preparation for the transfer of credit and financial market supervision.

And also to thank you for your efforts across the board.

Being a regulator will never be the most popular profession.

You are sometimes criticised for doing too much; and sometimes too little.

But regulators are vital for a well-functioning and fair market.  And the last few years have shown just how important good and sound regulation is to our reputation as a place to do business.

I wish you all the best in your new home.  May it be a centre of regulatory excellence for many years to come.

Thank you.