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2014 Financial System Inquiry

The 2014 Financial System Inquiry was annouced by the Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey MP, on 20 November 2014. The Inquiry's Final Report was released on 7 December 2014 and the Inquiry has concluded. For more information please visit the 2014 Financial System Inquiry website.

Common Questions

Public Access to the Inquiry

Is the Financial System Inquiry going to be held behind closed doors?

  • The Inquiry members are expected to consult widely on their terms of reference, within the bounds of their timetable and resources.
    • The Government wants the Inquiry completed by March 1997 so as to allow the Government to act on its recommendations in this parliamentary term.
    • In view of this short time-frame, it is anticipated that the first meeting of the Inquiry will occur in mid-June, after which public submissions will be sought.

  • The main way in which the Inquiry is expected to consult the public is by inviting submissions from any interested people or organisations as well as from the financial sector.
    • This will enable any members of the public who wish to do so to make a submission to the Inquiry.
  • The Treasurer has directed that submissions be made available for public release except, of course, where any commercial information must be kept confidential at the discretion of the Committee.
  • The Committee has also been directed to avoid adversarial proceedings. The Committee will determine its own procedures to ensure that all views are properly heard and considered.

Consumer Issues

Will consumer issues such as bank fees and charges be under review by the Financial System Inquiry?

  • The Inquiry will be expected to make recommendations not on the details of consumer regulation in any given market, but rather on the most appropriate regulatory framework.
  • It will be an important part of the Inquiry’s work to consider what regulatory arrangements are likely through time to keep the benefits and costs of consumer protection in balance.
  • The Inquiry is unlikely to conduct its own comprehensive investigation into banks’ performance vis-a-vis consumers which was conducted a few years ago by the Martin Parliamentary Committee, or the investigation of fees and charges for retail transaction accounts which was conducted last year by the Prices Surveillance Authority.

Membership - Representation of Consumers

Is there a consumer representative on the Committee?

  • The members of the Inquiry Committee have been chosen on the basis of their individual ability and expertise, rather than as representatives of particular interests.

  • The terms of reference require all of the Committee members to consider consumer issues, specifically:
    • to consider the implications for the financial system of consumer needs and demand, and
    • to recommend regulatory arrangements which will best promote the most efficient and cost effective service for users, consistent with financial market stability, prudence, integrity and fairness.

Rural Sector, Small Business & Venture Capital

Will the special needs of the rural sector, small business and venture capital be considered by the Financial System Inquiry?

  • The performance of the deregulated finance system in providing rural finance, small business finance and venture capital will be within the scope of the Inquiry.
  • In particular, the Inquiry will need to consider whether any factors distort the way the financial system supplies finance to particular sectors, and whether there are valid reasons for Government intervention in respect of those sectors.
  • It should be remembered that the rural sector’s interests will be considered specifically in the National Rural Finance Summit conference, to be held on 3 to 5 July 1996 under the direction of the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, the Hon. Mr John Anderson MP.

Exclusions from the Inquiry's Terms of Reference

Why is the Financial System Inquiry being directed not to make recommendations on the taxation of financial arrangements, the conduct of monetary policy, retirement income policies or the regulation of companies? Will this mean avoiding some fundamental issues in the financial system?

General

  • The Government will be actively developing its policies in these other areas during the period of the Inquiry, but through separate processes.
  • The Government has excluded these areas from the scope of the Inquiry’s recommendations because there is no point in the Inquiry duplicating the work of those already reviewing these issues.
  • The Inquiry will be expected to take careful account of parallel developments in these other areas, so that its recommendations will be fully consistent with them.

Taxation

  • A major policy review on the taxation of financial arrangements, involving extensive public consultations, is well progressed.
  • A review is also in progress on the taxation of leasing arrangements, and another on the taxation of life offices.

  • Taxation policies which affect particular financial products or institutions are likely to be raised in the Inquiry.
    • In its work the Inquiry will need to assess the implications of these policies, but will not be providing advice to the Government on what taxation policies to adopt.
    • Tax policy is a matter for Government decision making.

Superannuation

  • Superannuation matters which involve tax issues are excluded from the review for the same reasons as the taxation of financial arrangements is excluded.
  • However, those aspects of superannuation policy involving the structure of the financial system and its regulation will be encompassed in the Inquiry, including competition issues.
  • For example, the Government’s plan to provide for Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) is being progressed separately from the Financial System Inquiry, but RSAs may have implications for regulatory arrangements in the financial system which the Inquiry may need to consider.

Monetary Policy

  • It was appropriate for the Campbell Inquiry to make recommendations on the conduct of monetary policy because in the late 1970s this was a central component of the regulation of banks. But monetary policy is today implemented through the open markets, which allows the process to be transparent.
  • Accordingly, the Inquiry will not be making recommendations on the conduct of monetary policy.

Regulation of Companies

  • The Government sees no need for the regulation of the general operation of companies, through corporations law, to be part of the Financial System Inquiry. The project on simplification of corporate law has been underway for several years, and involves extensive consultation of both expert legal practitioners and the general public.
  • The provisions in the corporations law which govern fundraising clearly represent part of the regulatory arrangements for the financial system. However, the Government envisages that it will continue to receive expert advice on these matters, and the public will continue to be consulted, through the project on simplification of corporate law.

State/Territory Relations

A considerable amount of regulation in the financial sector is State based. Is the Inquiry going to focus on matters that are State responsibilities?

  • The report which the Inquiry will make to the Commonwealth Government may include observations about matters which relate to or are within the responsibilities of the States and Territories, notably State taxes on financial transactions, the regulation of State-based financial institutions, and the State credit laws and fair trading laws which affect financial institutions.
  • Because of this possible interest on the part of the Governments of the States and Territories, the Inquiry is expected to invite them to make submissions. Whether they do so will, of course, be a matter for the States and Territories’ to decide.
  • If the Commonwealth Government wishes in due course to pursue recommendations made by the Inquiry which affect responsibilities of the States and Territories, the Government will do so through discussions or negotiations with the States.

Competition Principles

Will the Financial System Inquiry apply ‘Hilmer’ principles to regulation in the financial sector?

  • In view of the Government’s commitment to undertake legislation reviews under the Competition Principles Agreement, the Inquiry will be asked to fulfil that commitment in respect of Commonwealth legislation in the financial sector.

 

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