Dear members

Firstly according to the Senate website the next hearings into ASIC's performance are April 02 and 10 in Canberra. On Friday last I thought I was experiencing Ground Hog Day because on the APAC channel on Foxtel sat Greg Medcraft and the Bobble Heads and in the exact seating order as Sydney with his Lord  and Master Greg taking centre stage. The occasion was a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services chaired by Senators David Fawcett and Deputy Chair Senator Sam Dastyari, ASIC were questioned from 3-10 to 4-30.

ASIC as a mechanism for consumer protection is a complete and utter failure but when it comes to self protection they are a well oiled machine and leap to each others defence when one of the Commissioners has trouble answering Senators questions, it was Sydney all over again and as usual lots of questions taken on notice.Its a complete art form how simple straight forward queries from the Senators can turn into a long winded conversation which is completely irrevelant  to the subject matter and is truly the land of "Yes Minister."

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft did state to the Senators that if penalties for committing financial crimes are light then the temptation to commit them is greater,this is the third time in little over a month I have seen him make this statement on T.V. In reference to the Senators queries about fines and penalties ASIC's are low compared to world standards he stated. GM stated to the Senators that as a standard many countries adopt the Three Times rule whereby whatever the losses to consumers are the penalties should be three fold financially to the culprit. Another strong argument and recommendation came from Senator Dastyari and which GM agreed would be good is if all penalties be indexed and keep up with inflation and cost of living expenses.

The wheels of justice are moving slowly but we are gradually gaining momentum. For Greg Medcraft to openly state he would like to see penalties higher is a move in the right direction especially since he stated to the Senators and in front of BFCSA members that no entity no matter how powerful will be exempt from ASIC's powers if found guilty.There was no direct mention of the banks involvement in various scenario's and the terms were generic in nature but they would fall under this umbrella.

If the Senators recommenced to Parliament that the culprits which are banks in our cases be penalised three fold as per Greg Medcraft's statements on world best practice are adopted it would be a fair and equitable solution but in reality I can't imagine a pro banks Coalition government adopting such measures. ASIC's main focus is financial punishment for wrong doer's because they have stated time and time again the costs of mounting legal challenges are prohibitive and they must select their cases carefully.GM stated to the Senate that ASIC has a war chest with tens of millions of dollars to take on the big cases but bugger the small fry like us.

I truly believe the slumbering giant which is ASIC is slowly awakening to the fact that now in 2014 with all the austerity measures and national asset sales about to come that if you don't perform then you face the axe and especially at the top. Its not just a grass roots group of agrieved mums and dads who have been ripped off by the banks that is BFCSA but a huge catalogue of complaints from all sectors of business and the community with a litany of cases that date back to ASIC's inception and a record of little or no action from the regulator. Joe Hockey has stated the easy days are gone and the free ride is over so maybe this is ASIC's wake up call. I just hope the government follows through with Senate recommendations and make the banks accountable for past dirty deeds. Thanks  Neil T.