Accountability and reporting
APRA is an independent statutory agency established by the Australian Parliament under the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act 1998 (APRA Act). Our purpose is provided in section 8 of the APRA Act:
- APRA is established for the purpose of regulating bodies in the financial sector in accordance with other laws of the Commonwealth that provide for prudential regulation or for retirement income standards.
- In providing this regulation and developing this policy, APRA is to balance the objectives of financial safety and efficiency, competition, contestability and competitive neutrality and, in balancing these objectives, is to promote financial system stability in Australia.
Specific industry Acts — covering banking, general insurance, life insurance, private health insurance and superannuation — reinforce this broad mandate and also set out our objectives with respect to the licensing and prudential supervision of each industry.
Taking this legislation together, APRA’s primary objective is to protect depositors, insurance policyholders and superannuation fund members through promoting the prudent management of regulated institutions in each industry, and the promotion of financial stability more broadly. However, the primary responsibility for the financial soundness of each institution remains with their board and senior management.
APRA is accountable to the Australian Parliament in the following ways:
- APRA's Annual Report is tabled in Parliament. This includes performance reporting such as the Annual Performance Statement, as well as the Performing Entity Ratio and Money Protection Ratio which are indicative of APRA's supervisory performance.
- The APRA Members and senior executives regularly appear before, and answer questions from, Senate and House of Representatives Parliamentary Committees each year, and also before ad hoc Parliamentary Committees and Inquiries, to discuss and explain APRA’s activities.
- APRA reports annually against the Australian Government’s Regulator Performance Framework, which assesses Commonwealth regulators’ performance when interacting with business, the community and individuals against a common set of performance indicators.
- APRA is subject to, and adheres to, the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act (PGPA Act), which covers governance, performance, accountability and the management of public resources by Commonwealth departments and agencies.
- APRA is required by Parliament to publish on its website a Corporate Plan setting out information on APRA’s key strategies and activities over a rolling four-year period. This is complemented by an Annual Performance Statement under the PGPA Act, which is included in the Annual Report.
- APRA is subject to, and complies with, the best practice regulation process administered by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. This includes cost/benefit assessments of regulatory changes and Regulation Impact Statements.
Working with Government
As a practical matter, APRA also works closely with the Government of the day. Government oversight of APRA's activities occurs in the following ways:
- A Statement of Expectations sets out the Government’s expectations about APRA's role and responsibilities as well as issues of transparency and accountability. APRA's Statement of Intent outlines its response to this Statement of Expectations.
- APRA holds regular meetings with the Treasurer and relevant Ministers to provide briefings on matters across banking, insurance and superannuation.
- The Government reviews APRA's annual budget and approves the levies that are imposed on industry each year to fund APRA's operations.
- APRA engages with the Treasurer’s Financial Sector Advisory Council, which provides advice to the Government financial sector policies and the performance of financial regulators.
Other oversight mechanisms
APRA is also subject to a range of other oversight mechanisms which include the following:
- The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audits APRA's annual financial accounts and undertakes ad hoc reviews of APRA's performance. These reports are tabled in Parliament and publicly available.
- The prudential framework comprises legislation enacted by Parliament and administered by APRA. The prudential standards for banking and insurance may be disallowed by Parliament.
- Specific decisions made by APRA under the industry Acts are ‘reviewable decisions’ with an internal APRA review. These decisions may also be appealed before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
- Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI), information on how to request copies of documents that APRA holds is published on the Freedom of Information page and requests can be emailed to foi [at] apra.gov.au.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) periodically assesses APRA against international codes and practices, such as the Basel Core Principles for Banking Supervision and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) Core Principles for Insurance Supervision.
- The Financial Stability Board (FSB) conducts a periodic peer review of Australia, including APRA, on the implementation of financial sector standards and policies and their effectiveness.
In addition to the above, APRA also regularly consult and engage with its stakeholders, which includes the following:
- APRA consults widely and comprehensively in a transparent and timely manner when developing prudential requirements to ensure all relevant views are properly considered. APRA assesses the expected impact of its proposals on supervised institutions and weigh these against their benefits in achieving the desired regulatory objectives.
- APRA regularly liaises with other financial regulatory agencies – the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Treasury – as members of the Council of Financial Regulators (CFR) to ensure its actions are aligned and, where necessary coordinated, with the work of other bodies.
- APRA also regularly engages with other agencies including AUSTRAC, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
- APRA conducts a major independent survey of its key stakeholders on APRA's performance every two years, the results of which are published on the APRA website.
- APRA actively engages with the financial industry and the wider community and explain its activities through regular speeches and presentations by the APRA Members and senior executives.
- APRA provides written submissions to relevant Parliamentary Inquiries, which are published on the APRA website.
- APRA publishes statistics and some analysis in respect to each of the industries it regulates, and we follow international standards to ensure the statistics are both reliable and timely.
- APRA publishes APRA Insight on a regular basis with articles on key industry issues and topics of current relevance for industry and other stakeholders.
In addition to the reporting noted above, APRA regularly publishes reports on administrative activities, such as financial performance, contracts and grants, and other information that APRA holds.
APRA prepares all financial statements in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Financial Reporting) Rule 2015 (FRR) and includes them in its Annual Reports. The FRR is a legislative instrument made under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act (PGPA Act) that sets out the minimum financial reporting requirements for all Commonwealth Reporting entities.
APRA supplies to Austender information on contracts entered into that have a value at or above $100,000. Austender then publishes an annual report on these contracts.
Some of the contracts listed contain confidentiality provisions of a general nature that are designed to protect the confidential information of the parties that may be obtained or generated in carrying out the contract. The reasons for including such clauses include ordinary commercial prudence that requires protection of trade secrets, proprietary information and the like.
The accountable authority of APRA, the Executive General Manager of Corporate Services Division, has assured that the listed contracts do not contain any inappropriate confidentiality provisions.
Grants and scholarships
As part of the Brian Gray Scholarship program, APRA and the Reserve Bank of Australia fund up to four scholarships annually to the value of $15,000 each.
Details of these grants are listed on the website within 14 working days of both parties signing the funding agreement and remain on the website for at least two years, according to the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines.
Senate Continuing Orders
APRA publishes a list of files twice a year in response to a Senate Continuing Order known as the Harradine Report. The lists show new file titles created by APRA, with some exclusions as noted in the Order.