20 September 2017

Reports today that the Turnbull Government intends to proceed to appoint John O'Sullivan as Chair of ASIC threaten the independence of and bipartisan support for this important regulator.

Labor makes it very clear, we will not support Mr O'Sullivan's appointment, should it proceed.

Labor does not do this lightly. We do this in light if our most serious concerns and our respect for the importance of ASIC's independence.

The reputation of the corporate regulator and its leadership team must be beyond reproach and so to appoint Mr OSullivan would raise serious questions around ASICs independence and its ability to command trust across markets and the Parliament.

On 24 June this year, in response to earlier reports that this appointment was receiving serious consideration by the Turnbull Government, Federal Labor provided a clear warning on appointing such a partisan figure linked to the Utegate affair which clearly tainted Malcolm Turnbull, to such an important economic institution.

There were emails released as part of the investigations into the Utegate affair which showed contact between Mr OSullivan, then Chairman of Credit Suisses Australian investment banking operations, and disgraced Treasury official Godwin Grech.

Mr OSullivan has been a Liberal Party member in Mr Turnbulls electorate, a President of the Liberal Partys Wentworth federal electoral conference and previously donated to Mr Turnbulls Wentworth Forum.

Australia has well-respected economic regulators based on a tradition of non-partisan appointments.

If the Prime Minister and Treasurer were so foolhardy as to proceed with this appointment, this matter would go directly to the poor judgement of the Prime Minister and Treasurer.

To be frank, it would be a clear sign that Malcolm Turnbull has learnt nothing since Utegate.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has a vital role to play in regulating financial conduct and protecting Australian consumers and the last thing it needs is this sort of controversy fixing itself upon ASICs leadership team.