Finding yet another way to stick the shiv into Turnbull, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has called for the sacking of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and replacement by ‘more vigilant’ people. This was because ASIC apparently failed to detect and punish the transgressions being exposed by the Hayne Royal Commission. However, it was Abbott, as Prime Minister, with Treasurer Joe Hockey, who concocted the notoriously bad 2014 federal budget, in which the ASIC budget was cut by $120 million over four years leading to the loss of over 200 staff1; staff that could have been keeping tabs on financial institutions. At the time, the government emphasised a greater role for self-regulation. In 2016, Turnbull restored the funding and boosted the powers of the organisation1.
Abbott is probably too dim to remember that it was his government which cut the funding to ASIC and encouraged this self-regulation, which perhaps in part has led to the current shemozzle. Self-regulation in the finance industry turned out to be a disastrous suggestion in hindsight, but also in foresight. Self-regulation, in a capitalist system, is effectively ‘open slather’. It is power without accountability, which is a recipe for disaster; and so it has proved to be.
Self-regulation is also something with which Abbott’s psyche is incapable. He cannot forgive Turnbull for supplanting him as Prime Minister, and will undermine him at every opportunity, no matter how cryptic that undermining may be. Some people have assumed that Abbott’s call for the sacking of ASIC is hypocritical; however, I believe he is too obtuse to actually understand that his actions may have aided and abetted this fiasco.