In a submission to the parliamentary joint committee on corporations and financial services, the Society of Corporate Law Academics (SCoLA) said that the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC)’s work was “extraordinarily valuable” and recommended it be re-established.
“The Society strongly recommends the re-establishment of the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee, or the creation of a similar body, to allow for the provision of independent, expert advice to government in the areas of corporate law and governance, the regulation of financial markets and insolvency,” the submission said.
Originally established in 1989, CAMAC was wound up in 2018 after being defunded in the 2014–15 federal budget.
The Senate Economics Committee issued a report in 2015 in support of the CAMAC Abolition Bill 2014 proposal that CAMAC and its legal committee be merged into the Treasury and their roles taken over by the Treasury Department and ASIC.
“The consolidation of the functions of CAMAC into the Department of the Treasury is expected to improve co-ordination and accountability and reduce the costs associated with separate governance arrangements,” the report stated.
“In addition, ASIC may on its own initiative, or when requested by the minister, advise or make recommendations to the minister about matters concerned with corporations legislation, the financial services industry and financial markets.”
In a submission to the Senate Economics Committee prior to the release of its report in 2015, the Law Council of Australia (LCA) said the cost saving achieved by the abolition of CAMAC would be less than $1 million per year.
“CAMAC provides excellent value for taxpayers’ money, producing very significant output with only three full-time staff,” the Law Council submission said.
SCoLA said in its submission that the abolition of CAMAC was an “unanticipated and controversial development”, citing wide-ranging opposition across professional, industry and legal experts.
“The vast majority of submissions received in response to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee Inquiry into the proposed abolition of CAMAC advocated for the retention of CAMAC. In fact, only a single submission spoke in favour of the proposed abolition,” SCoLA said.
“The Society considers that CAMAC’s work was extraordinarily valuable, not least by virtue of its impact on corporations law reform, the depth and scope of the expertise underpinning the work of CAMAC, its independence as an advisory body, its ability to enhance consultation processes in relation to corporations law reform, and finally, its remarkable cost-effectiveness.”
The academic association added that CAMAC provided impactful, independent advice that leveraged the depth and scope of expertise on corporations law.
“Following the abolition of CAMAC, Australian parliaments and the Australian people have lost a vital source of expert advice on the common law and equity as it pertains to corporations and financial markets,” SCoLA said.
“This is due to the fact that Treasury’s remit concerns only the relevant legislation; CAMAC’s function, by contrast, was broader, allowing for the provision of more fulsomely contextualised advice to government on law reform proposals in and around corporations law. Reinstating CAMAC or equivalent body will plug what is a substantial gap in the government’s existing law reform framework.”
It added: “The Society submits that an independent, expert body such as CAMAC is best placed to provide the highest possible degree of consultation with all relevant stakeholders in matters of corporate law reform on an ongoing and continuous basis, consultation which is essential to the successful development and maintenance of corporations law in Australia.”