Abolition of CAMAC speech - 2 March 2015

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (15:42): Earlier in the debate on this bill, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Amendment (Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee Abolition) Bill 2014, I was reflecting on the great work that CAMAC has done, particularly in trying to work out a framework for the introduction of crowdsourced equity funding in Australia, and what that might do to help support businesses, particularly start-ups and those that are at the early stage of innovation, being able to get access to much-needed capital. As I indicated earlier, CAMAC brought down a very comprehensive report in May. I would like to congratulate the subcommittee of CAMAC who brought that report down, led by chair, Greg Vickery AO, from Norton Rose Australia; along with Teresa Handicott from Corrs Chambers Westgarth; Professor Ian Ramsay, who is a professor of commercial law at the University of Melbourne; and Brian Salter, who is the General Counsel at AMP; and they were assisted by ASIC's Maan Beydoun. Even in mentioning those names, you get a sense of the calibre of people who have committed to assist in CAMAC's work. As I indicated in my earlier contribution, from a policy perspective it is simply a tragedy that with the abolition of CAMAC we will lose those skills and that expertise, and the acquisition of the insights of that body—and it is assumed that, once CAMAC is demolished in the way that is proposed, the three people currently working for CAMAC will be absorbed by Treasury. It is an absolute tragedy that the government will have to pay more to get that expertise, as opposed to what they had at hand and the great work CAMAC has done, such as this report.

This report on crowdsource equity funding was widely welcomed by many for its breadth. It looked at jurisdictions—particularly in the US, the UK, New Zealand, Canada and within the EU—that are working very hard to put, or have put, in place mechanisms to allow crowdsource equity funding. Not everyone would necessarily agree with what CAMAC put forward, but CAMAC was quite good in saying, 'This is where we believe the work has been scoped out of what should be done on crowdsource equity funding.' It said it was up to government then to advance things if it wanted to make alterations and recommendations on where to next. Certainly from the opposition's perspective we have done just that: we released a position paper in December that outlined a number of principles that should be adhered to or taken into account when putting together a framework for crowdsource equity funding These principles include: that we build recognition and support by government, business and the broader community that crowdsource equity funding is a desirable means of raising capital to drive innovation; that we should have investor and consumer safeguards in place and acknowledge that there is a great potential for investment return, balanced with a greater degree of risk; that freeing up the access of start-ups to crowdsource funding by loosening some of the regulatory measures proposed, including the requirement of the exempted public company status. We put that forward for discussion. Another couple of our principles are that legislation be developed to support the introduction of this mechanism is given a high priority—we have expressed our concern that it has been delayed; and that a light regulatory touch be put in place. We hope that the government gets on with the crowdsource equity funding legislation. We also believe it is wrong to get rid of CAMAC.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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