House debates

Wednesday, 26 May 2021


Financial Regulator Assessment Authority Bill 2021, Financial Regulator Assessment Authority (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021; Second Reading

10:31 am

Photo of Stephen JonesStephen Jones (Whitlam, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Let me cite a few examples of where the economics committee has neglected its responsibility to this parliament and to the consumers of financial services in this country. For several years now, the banking community, mortgage brokers, have complained to this parliament, to the government and to others that the reasonable intent of the responsible lending laws has been distorted by the regulatory guidance that has been produced by the Australian Securities and Investment Committee. A chair of the economics committee that has a responsibility for oversighting these regulatory authorities might say, 'This is something that we should be inquiring into. We should bring the regulators before the committee and ensure that the regulatory guidance in implementing the legislation is, indeed, what parliament intended.' It has not happened.

An economics committee that was performing its functions might be looking at the caseload that has been brought forward by the royal commission and be keeping the regulators on their toes by ensuring that these matters were being properly prosecuted. It has neglected this responsibility. And, when they do turn their gaze towards the regulated community, they do it in an entirely biased way that singles out one section of the industry, because of their political bias, and neglects another section of the industry. It is quite clear that, instead of fulfilling their responsibilities—responsibilities delegated to committees by acts of parliament—they have abused the responsibilities that these committee have.

It is exactly for this reason that the royal commission has said that we need to put in place another layer of oversight for these regulators. These regulators are actually some of the most overseen bodies in the Australian Commonwealth. They have oversights in place by parliamentary committees. They have oversights in place by Senate committees and by two House committees. They have oversights in place through the Ombudsman's office and through the Audit Office. They are highly regulated and oversighted by committees. But there has been a failure—particularly the failure in this place since 2013, under the stewardship of successive chairs of both committees—in their duty to ensure that the regulators are kept on their toes. That's one of the reasons that there has been a need to bring this bill before the House—to ensure the regulators are doing their job.

We support the legislation. We think it is a step in the right direction. But it serves as a warning to those who have the honour of serving on those important parliamentary oversight committees to ensure that they do the job that the parliament has delegated to them—that they do the job of ensuring that the regulators are properly overseen—and that they don't abuse their role on these committees in going off on frolics and vanity exercises for politically motivated purposes. I commend the bill and the second reading amendment to the House.


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