White collar crime – what’s the point?

The Senate has granted a further extension to the white collar crime committee to report by 23 March 2017.  It was originally going to report by early March 2017.

This inquiry started in late 2015 and then lapsed with the general election.  It has now had a further extension on its reporting.

As reported in today’s Australian Financial Review, Trigger-happy crossbench pushes Senate to breaking point, 26 February 2017, the number of inquiries being undertaken by Senate committees is so excessive that “the system is being pushed to breaking point”. It has also got to the point when Senate inquiries are inquiries into matters already inquired into earlier. This white collar crime inquiry is one.

A consequence of that is even poorer reports, and a lack of interest of parties to offer submissions.

The bigger issue is that while some reports make worthwhile contributions and recommendations, very few of those reports, or their recommendations are taken up.  As Ken Henry is reported as saying, modern politics “has degenerated into trench warfare where populism is the ammunition and reform is dead”. 

It is a failure of what could be an important feature of democracy, all the more so because of the motivations behind some inquiries reported in the AFR article. 

My list of 30+ un-actioned insolvency law reports is no doubt matched in other areas by similar figures.  It is galling that while the insolvency regime and its practitioners are criticised by government, and the media and others, ideas to address many of those criticisms lie unattended to.

In other words, do something or shut up.

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