Financial regulators dragging the chain

Australia's three key financial services regulators — the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) — may move with alacrity in their own enforcement activity but have proved less fleet-footed in meeting the needs of the Parliament.

A recent survey conducted by the Rule of Law Institute of Australia (ROLIA) found that when it came to answering questions asked by Senators during Senate Estimates late last year, all three agencies were late more than a quarter of the time, with the ATO being the worst offender.

The survey found that ASIC was late in delivering responses 35 per cent of the time, while APRA was a little better and was late on only 28 per cent of occasions. However the ATO was the worst-performed financial services regulator, being late with respect to 44 per cent of questions asked.

However, when it comes to being really unresponsive to Senate questions, Treasury, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Inspector General of Taxation had the worst records, with the competition watchdog answering only one question on time and being late on 99 per cent of other occasions, while the Inspector General of Taxation did not answer any questions at all in the period — in similar fashion to the Fiscal Group within Treasury which also scored a perfect 100 per cent for not answering questions on time.




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