Update: 15 July 2020 – Rewritten to correct some of my own views and information.
I concede this is more of an unquantified feeling at this stage and this post will likely be added to or otherwise edited…
While Australia has both Consumer and Retail investor Protection regulatory frameworks in place, the supervision and enforcement of I feel of is rather weak and probably weaker than anyone, even Australians actually realise. This extends to their financial sector as well In terms of retail investments and retail banking.
Instead of Watchdogs with some teeth it would appear Australia largely have a series of agencies at both the Federal and State level who are only able to investigate the minority of reports and complaints, then advertise any successful enforcement action as both a means to hopefully scare other would be wrong doers into compliance and justify their existence to the Australian public (i.e. “window dressing”).
This lack of supervision and enforcement is perhaps resulting in less than ethical companies trying their hand at pushing the envelope in terms of what they can get away with. It also raises concerns as to how much unchecked corruption and fraud may be occurring under the table.
The biggest of these issues was trying to report the issue of Binary options in Australia to ASIC and getting effectively stonewalled only to see a few years down the track, many Australian investors in one such scheme getting fleeced and if that wasn’t enough, had some debt collection firm called “Dun and Bradstreet”(?) set upon them to boot.
At the lower end of the scale, companies who think they can hide some of their antics behind their well recognised branding caught posting multiple fake reviews or otherwise manipulating them.
Australia sees a lot of reliance on industry groups to self-police and self-regulate with many of them drawing up their own codes of ethics to perhaps facilitate this and possibly also as a Public Relations move as a means to show to both Australian regulators and the public, “Hey look, we’re doing something!”
As an essentially causal observer looking in, rightly or wrongly, It certainly feels as if though the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and even more so, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) at the Federal level are ill-equipped (In terms of resources) to even carry out much of the supervisory oversight and enforcement action they were originally established to do.
Will leave it to Australians to sort it out among themselves. I will say that I feel I’ve personally encountered more issues as both a consumer and investor in Australia than I ever had at home in New Zealand.