CCLSWA was pleased to contribute to a joint submission to the Senate Economics Committee’s inquiry into the capacity and capability of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to undertake proportionate investigation and enforcement action arising from reports of alleged misconduct. Effective enforcement action is a critical task of consumer protection regulators and essential to a well-functioning consumer market.
This joint submission by Consumer Action Law Centre, CHOICE, Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network, Financial Counselling Australia, Financial Rights Legal Centre, Super Consumers Australia and CCLSWA made 15 recommendations with the objective of empowering ASIC to deliver more effective outcomes from its investigations and compliance work. These recommendations include:
- amending ASIC’s legislative objectives to specifically reference its role in promoting fair treatment for consumers experiencing vulnerability
- increasing ASIC’s funding, particularly to allow it to do more ongoing data collection and analysis
- providing additional specific funding to expand ASIC’s Indigenous Outreach Program
- developing a mechanism by which ASIC and Treasury can proactively identify and respond to any problematic conduct that falls on the edge of ASIC’s regulatory perimeter
- introducing an unfair trading prohibition and giving ASIC the power to enforce this provision in relation to financial services
- introducing a super-complaints power like the one in the UK, and
- aligning penalties in relevant ASIC legislation to those in the Australian Consumer Law.
We also supported and encouraged ASIC to continue to use the variety of powers at its disposal and taking a campaign approach towards compliance and enforcement. In support of this, we noted that the significant enforcement action ASIC has completed in recent years had improved consumer outcomes in financial services.
To read a copy of the submission, click here.