Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Source: The New Daily.
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  • Australia’s corporate watchdog has unveiled a new four-year plan this morning that focuses on the economic recovery from COVID-19
  • There are four key priorities that range from fostering innovation to tackling cyber crime and investment scams
  • The regulator will be required to work more closely with the Government and Treasury by providing information to ministers
  • ASIC must not be “unduly prescriptive” in its regulatory guidance and must ensure that guidance does not go beyond the law

Australia’s corporate watchdog has unveiled a new four-year plan this morning, which seeks to “achieve a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all.”

The Australian Investment and Securities Commission’s (ASIC) Corporate Plan 2021-25 was released along with a new Statement of Intent, pledging to contribute to the Federal Government’s recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

It includes four strategic priorities: promote economic recovery by facilitating innovation and enforcing regulatory action, address harm to consumers and the recent increase in investment scams, foster enhanced cyber security, and drive industry readiness and compliance with standards set by law reform initiatives.

Commenting on the plan, ASIC Chair Joe Longo said the regulator has an important role to play in promoting confidence in Australia’s financial system, particularly in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

“We will continue to take opportunities to support businesses through more efficient regulation. At the same time, we will continue to be vigilant in protecting consumers and investors from harm,” he said.

“ASIC will make use of the full range of regulatory tools available to enhance trust in the financial system, and we will exercise our powers consistently, transparently and proportionately.”

A former lawyer, Mr Longo was appointed Chair in April, replacing James Shipton who stood down last year following an expense scandal. His deputy, Daniel Crennan, also resigned and was replaced by ACCC commissioner Sarah Court.

ASIC’s plan follows the release of a Statement of Expectations from the Federal Government, which outlines exactly how the watchdog should achieve its goals.

The regulator will be required to work more closely with the Government and Treasury by providing information to ministers and consulting with necessary departments when exercising its policy-related functions.

Notably, the Government said ASIC must not be “unduly prescriptive” in its regulatory guidance, and must “ensure that guidance or other communications do not have the effect of setting standards beyond what the law requires.”

“The [statement] makes clear the government expects ASIC to contribute to the government’s economic goals, including supporting Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

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