Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced sweeping changes to the corporate watchdog in a bid to clean up the financial services sector and brush aside Labor’s call for a royal commission into the big banks.
At a press conference in Canberra this morning, Morrison unveiled a multi-million funding package for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission that will see the regulator gain an additional commissioner tasked with cracking down on financial crime.
ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft’s term has also been extended for another 18 months.
The big banks will foot a large chunk of ASIC’s bigger balance sheet, contributing an additional $121 million in funding to the watchdog.
Small business minister and assistance treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer told reporters the government wants ASIC to be the “tough cop on the beat”.
Because of this, the Turnbull government will provide an additional $61 million dollars in taxpayer funds for ASIC to equip itself with new technology and additional technical staff.
Another $57 million from the government will go towards increased surveillance measures.
“It means it will give ASIC the capability to intervene before serious harm is done rather than simply cleaning up the mess after the event,” O’Dwyer said.
“We want to put the consumer at the centre of our system. We want to make sure that they don’t have to navigate a complex path in order to get the results that they need so that they can then move on with their lives.”
The government also announced ASIC will have looser restrictions placed on it when it comes to hiring, meaning it will be able to more easily compete with the private sector when it comes to snapping up talent.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten today savaged the government’s proposal, saying it doesn’t go far enough.
“Australia needs a royal commission because nothing else has seemed to work to change the culture of banking,” Shorten told reporters in Canberra.
“There are tens of thousands of Australians on an annual basis being ripped off. Mr Turnbull has a chance to show whose side he’s on. Is he on the side of the big banks, or on the side of consumers?”