October Budget update: APRA, ASIC to get staff boost; ACCC receives $9.9m to combat scams

October Budget 2022

Australia’s financial industry regulators, APRA and ASIC, will each see a modest increase in staff numbers, figures from the October 2022 Budget reveal.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is set to add 31 staff in FY2022-23, increasing from a total of 815 agency staff in the last financial year to 846 staff this year.

Meanwhile, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) will get an extra 51 staff on its books in FY2022-23, increasing from 1,947 to 1,998 employees.

The Albanese Government has also allocated $9.9 million to Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC, over the next four years as part of its October Budget to establish a new National Anti-Scam Centre.

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said the new Centre would function as a single “contact point for advice on how to prevent scams and what to do when they have been hit”.

“This funding allows for a range of agencies to work together to plan the best way of supporting the community in the fight against scammers,” she said.

“We look forward to contributing to the blueprint for this important work to better guard the community against and respond to the dangers of scams.”

The nearly $10 million investment would serve as “seed funding” for the Centre, the ACCC said in a statement.

Revealed as part of its pre-2022 election proposals, the then Labor opposition first mooted the anti-scam centre back in November 2021, taking inspiration from similar agencies established in the UK and Canada during the Covid pandemic lockdowns – a period that saw a surge in scam activity targeting, often vulnerable, individuals.

The then Shadow Minister for Financial Services (now serving Minister for Financial Services) Stephen Jones said the Centre would help to stem a “scamdemic” in online and phone fraud.

The proposed Centre, Labor said, would serve as a centralised engagement hub for law enforcement, cyber intelligence agencies, banks, social media and telecommunications companies to help tackle cyber and phone scams.

The Federal Government, as part of its Budget 2022 update, will also allocate $2 million to the Department of Home Affairs to expand its existing arrangement with IDCARE, a not-for-profit national identity and cyber support service, to provide specialist identity support services, including counselling and identity recovery services for victims of identity theft.

A further $700,000 will be granted to Treasury to raise public awareness of the risk of scams.

The revised 2022 Budget comes just six months after the Morrison Government-issued March 2022 Budget, released only a few months before the federal election.

*Updated on 26 October