The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

3 May 2011

Joint Press Conference
with
Greg Medcraft
Appointed ACCC Chairman
and
Rod Sims
Nominated ACCC Chairman

Canberra

3 May 2011

SUBJECTS: ACCC, ASIC Candidates

TREASURER:

Good morning everybody. It's good to be here. I'm here this morning to announce two outstanding candidates to lead our competition and corporate watchdogs in the years ahead. The Gillard Government has nominated Rod Sims to be the next Chairman of the ACCC and will recommend it to the Governor-General that Greg Medcraft be appointed the next Chairman of ASIC.

Now our objective from day one has been to protect the interests of Australian consumers while understanding the need of Australian business for certainty and commercial outcomes. Mr Sims and Mr Medcraft are just the people we need to keep standing up for competition and also to protect the integrity and stability of financial markets.

Now, I've written to the States and Territories about the appointment of Mr Sims to Chair the ACCC and it does require majority support from the States and Territories for that position.

Mr Sims, I think, would be well known to many of you. He is a highly regarded Australian economist with broad and deep experience in the Australian business community and, of course extensive public service as well as a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for some years and he is also Chairman of IPART and a councillor of our National Competition Council. He has worked extensively as a key advisor to business and, as I said before, for a long period of time in public service.

Greg Medcraft joined ASIC as a Commissioner in February 2009, taking responsibility for the oversight of investment banking, investment managers, super funds and financial advisers. Mr Medcraft is respected across global financial markets with up to 30 years experience in investment banking and in financial markets across Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

So I have the highest confidence in both of these gentlemen. They are going to head two of our key regulators and they will play an important part in promoting competition in our economy and making sure that we have integrity and confidence in our financial markets.

Can I also just say a few words about the departing Chairman? Mr Samuel has done an outstanding job at the ACCC and he does leave a legacy in that area of strong advocacy for competition and he's been very effective in that role. Also, Mr D'Aloiso, in ASIC, played a key role particularly working with other regulators during the global financial crisis to ensure that we maintained stability in our financial system and, of course we all know that protected hundreds of thousands of jobs and ensured the strength of the Australian economy in the short term. So I wish them all the best in their retirement.

Now, both Mr Sims and Mr Medcraft will be appointed for a period of five years. That will give our regulators the stability they require and that is also very important.

Australia's regulators are among the best in the world and that was proven during the global financial crisis and the global recession, and I'm sure these two candidates will re-enforce the high standing of our regulators well into the future. Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

One of the (inaudible) Do you have a view of what's been going on in the supermarket price war?

SIMS:

Look, I'm afraid today I'm really not going to get into any particular issues mainly because what the Treasurer has kindly announced today, and I thank him for those kind words, is my nomination to the position of Chairman of the ACCC, which I'm absolutely delighted with, but I'm very conscious that it is a nomination, it does require the approval of the majority of the States and Territories and I'm looking forward to going and talking to the States and Territories to get to know them and talking about the nomination.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, Mr Sims has been giving advice to the Climate Change Committee in a very expert area, presumably that stops from today, does it? And if so, will there be another adviser with that expertise appointed to help the Climate Change Committee?

TREASURER:

Well, that's a decision that hasn't been taken as yet but of course that will cease from today.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Sims, there's been criticism of the ACCC's powers in recent years when it comes to things like petrol and so forth. Are you happy with the Trade Practices Act and the legislation under which you will operate or would you like to see the ACCC, you know, be given greater powers to intervene in certain issues?

SIMS:

Look, again -

JOURNALIST:

Without being specific.

SIMS:

No, look, I understand that. I think with the platform the ACCC's got to perform its role, I think, is a terrific one. I think it plays an absolutely pivotal role in the Australian economy and indeed I think the sort of role that the ACCC plays is really fundamental to the proper functioning of any market company. As to whether it's got absolutely everything it needs, I think I'll leave that comment for another day but the breadth of its reach in terms of consumer issues, safety issues, competitive conduct, mergers and of course the increasingly important role of infrastructure regulations is one I look forward to getting closely involved in, but beyond that I'm sorry I'm not going to get drawn.

JOURNALIST:

Your predecessors in this role haven't been shrinking violets when it comes to, you know, using the media to get across their views on particular issues. Is that something you think that you would also take to the job?

SIMS:

Look, I think with Allan Fels and Graeme Samuel as my predecessors, if indeed I'm confirmed in the role, those are big shoes to fill. I'm going to be out seeking the counsel of both men over the next couple of weeks. Look, I think it's actually very important to be open and transparent with the media. The media play a fundamental role in communicating what's going on to the wider public. I've been quite accessible to the media in a range of roles and I want to continue to do that.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, are you comfortable with the fact that the Future Fund is investing in companies that make cluster bombs?

TREASURER:

Look -

JOURNALIST:

And secondly -

TREASURER:

First of all, can I just say that I'll just take questions regarding these two appointments and then I'm happy to answer any other questions that you've got. Then the two gentlemen can leave and I'll answer other questions. I think that's the best way to go about it.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Medcraft, a similar question. Are you happy with the powers with which ASIC operates. I mean ASIC has not been immune from criticism (inaudible). Is there anything that you would like to see? Any changes you'd like to see when you take over in terms of ASIC?

MEDCRAFT:

Well, first of all I'd like to thank the Treasurer and the Government for their confidence in recommending me for the position. I'm absolutely delighted. Secondly, you know, from my point of view to specifically answer your question, it's business as usual at ASIC. We're going to consolidate the achievements we've made over the last few years under the leadership of Tony D'Aloiso and the structure we have.

And I'll emphasise three key things that we are focussed on and I think it's fundamental to the Australian financial system. One - and I think it's really important - is that we have confident and informed investors and financial consumers, and the way we do that is to first of all to make sure that investors are actually properly informed and we need to, I think, go beyond point of sale disclosure. We need to actually understand how consumers make decisions and that will be something I think we need to think about more.

Secondly, I think of the gatekeepers in the system. We need to make sure that they are actually, you know, they do their job properly. That's very important in terms of making sure the system works for consumers and investors. Secondly that we have an efficient, a fair, efficient and transparent financial markets, and again we'll continue on what we're doing with market competition, supervising the market.

And thirdly our registering and licensing system, that that's efficient, cost effective. You know, that's really key to dealing for business in Australia, and particularly what I want to do is spend a bit more time seeing what we can do for small business in Australia, and to underline all that we won't be stopping in terms of, you know, our emphasis on enforcement naturally. So I think it's pretty well, as you say, business as usual and thanks again Treasurer.