Whistleblower Bill delayed in Senate

On 7 December 2017, the Australian Government took a further step towards whistleblower reform by introducing the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 into the Senate (Whistleblower Bill). Among other things, the Whistleblower Bill extends the range of persons and the scope of disclosures currently eligible for protection. The Government intended that the Whistleblower Bill would be enacted by July. However, the Senate did not consider the Whistleblower Bill in its most recent sitting. There is opportunity for the Whistleblower Bill to be further debated during the current sitting, which began on 13 August 2018, although it appears passage of the Bill will be further delayed. Please click here to read our full summary of the Whistleblower Bill.

Further funding announced for ASIC to enhance enforcement

On 7 August 2018, the Australian Government announced that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission ("ASIC") will obtain an additional AUD70.1 million in funding in order to enhance efforts to adopt a ‘new supervisory approach’ to its monitoring of Australia’s financial institutions. The additional resources come after the Australian Government announced in April 2018 that tougher criminal and civil penalties would be introduced for breaches of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). ASIC has since announced various measures it intends to implement, which indicate a more proactive approach to enforcement. This includes embedding ASIC staff members inside major banks to supervise governance and compliance. This proposal also comes after the Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison stated that the Government was giving serious consideration to the Productivity Commission’s recommendation that all banks should appoint a ‘principal integrity officer’ who would have a positive duty to report misconduct to regulators. That recommendation was contained in the Productivity Commission’s report on competition in Australia's financial system, which was publicly released on 3 August 2018 and is available here.