Will ASIC get competition powers?

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission may get its wish to obtain a competition power, with the Productivity Commission (PC) recommending consideration of such a move to help drive competition in the financial services industry.

In the recommendations attaching to its draft report on Competition in the Financial Sector, the PC suggested that either ASIC or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission should have the job of driving competitive outcomes in the sectors.

“What is needed in the financial regulatory system is a strong voice for competition, within the regulator circle,” it said. “A central government body should be tasked with allowing this voice to be heard and ensuring other regulators act only after full and rigorous consideration of impact on competitive opportunities.”

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“We consider there are two candidates for this role — the ACCC and ASIC,” the PC report said.

The draft report noted that the Murray Financial System Inquiry (FSI) had leaned towards such a role for ASIC.

However it noted that “for ASIC to act as a champion of financial system competition would require a clear change that could be mandated via revised and specific Statement of Expectations from the Australian Government, and change in its regulatory culture”.



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I think Russia and China have already trialled having central governments drive "efficiency and competition" programs. I would suggest the thinking and constraints within government agencies is significantly different and therefore they are unable to drive business competition. They could step back and allow competition, but this article does not seem to suggest this is desired outcome.

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