ASIC, in order to equip itself with its wide-ranging functions, is empowered with additional resources and new legislative powers. Towards this, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act, 1989 was amended to mirror the consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act, 1974. Further, ASIC inherited a set of legislations covering the finance sector, i.e., general insurance, life insurance, superannuation and banking, rather than gaining new legislative provisions and powers as envisaged by the Wallis Report.
On 11 March 2002, the Financial Services Reform Act, 2001 (FSR Act) came into effect, making extensive amendments to the Corporations Act and other legislation covering the financial sector. The FSR Act implements, among other things, the Wallis Report proposals that there be a single licensing regime for financial services providers and consistent and comparable financial products disclosure. As a result of these amendments to the FSR Act, ASIC has been made responsible for regulating and enforcing a uniform framework for a wide range of financial products and financial services providers.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act, 2001 requires ASIC to:
- uphold the law uniformly, effectively and quickly;
- promotes confidence and informed participation by investors and consumers in the financial system;
- gives information about companies and other bodies available to the public; and
- improves the performance of the financial system and the entities within it.
ASIC administers the following legislations (or relevant parts of it), as well as relevant regulations made under it:
- Corporations Act, 2001.
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act, 2001.
- Insurance Contracts Act, 1984.
- Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act, 1993.
- Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act, 1993.
- Retirement Savings Accounts Act, 1997.
- Life Insurance Act, 1995.
- Medical Indemnity (Prudential Supervision and Product Standards) Act, 2003.