1. Oversight of Australian standards setting

1.1 Introduction

Under Part 12 of the ASIC Act one of the FRC’s functions is to provide broad oversight of the processes for setting accounting and auditing standards in Australia and to give the Minister reports and advice about these processes. Specific accounting and auditing standard setting functions for which the FRC was responsible in 2013-14 are contained in subsections 225(2) and (2A) of the ASIC Act. The activities of the FRC in executing these functions and responsibilities can be grouped as follows:

  • activities in relation to the standards setting boards in Australia;
  • activities in relation to developments in Australia; and
  • activities in relation to international developments.

An outline of each of these three areas is provided in this and the following chapters in conjunction with information about the FRC’s performance of its functions in each area.

1.2 Activities in relation to the Boards

The ASIC Act provides the FRC with a number of responsibilities with respect to the two standards setting boards (the Boards), the AASB and the AUASB. These responsibilities include appointing the members of the Boards, giving them advice on certain areas and determining their broad strategic directions.

1.2.1 Appointment of members to the Boards

The ASIC Act provides that the FRC is responsible for appointing the members of the AASB and AUASB (other than the Chairmen, who are appointed by the Minister). In addition, the ASIC Act provides that the members of the Boards (other than the Chairmen) hold office on the terms and conditions determined by the FRC.

The FRC is assisted in the performance of these functions by a Nominations Committee which is responsible for seeking expressions of interest from persons interested in being considered for appointment to either the AASB or AUASB and interviewing and evaluating candidates on the basis of merit. The Nominations Committee is also responsible for preparing and conducting the annual members’ peer review for the FRC, the AASB and the AUASB. The membership of the Nominations Committee as at 30 June 2014 is listed in the table below.

Committee Chairman Members
Nominations Committee Mark Coughlin Michael Coleman
Andrew Fleming
Stein Helgeby
Merran Kelsall
Kevin Stevenson
Jan West

The following appointments and re-appointments to the Boards for terms commencing on 1 January 2014 and ending on 31 December 2016 (unless otherwise shown) were approved by the FRC on 28 November 2013:

  • AASB: appointment of Regina Fikkers, Steve Mitsas, Taryn Rulton, Marc Smit, and Professor Ann Tarca.
  • AUASB: appointment of Robin Low and Caithlin McCabe; and the reappointment of Neil Cherry from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2016 and John Gavens from
    1 January 2014 to 30 June 2015.

The FRC would like to thank the following AASB members who left during 2013-14 for their contributions: Victor Clarke; Michele Embling, Professor Jayne Godfrey, Liane Papaelias, Roger Sexton, and Robert Williams. The FRC would also like to thank the following AUASB members who left during 2013-14 for their contributions: Jon Tyers (Deputy Chairman) and Kristen Wydell.

As at 30 June 2014, the AASB had 14 members while the AUASB had 13 members.

1.2.2 Giving advice or feedback to the Boards and their Offices

The FRC’s functions include giving the AASB and AUASB advice or feedback on their priorities, business plans and procedures and giving the Offices of the AASB and AUASB advice or feedback on their budgets and staffing arrangements (including level, structure and composition of staffing).

The FRC monitored the activities of the Boards as part of its regular activities, mainly by asking the Chairmen of the Boards to provide written and oral reports on the Boards’ activities at each FRC meeting. The reports provided FRC Members with the opportunity to raise issues and question the Chairmen about the activities of the Boards at each meeting.

The National Commission of Audit was established to examine the scope and efficiency of Government, review the state of the Commonwealth’s finances, and to make recommendations on structural reforms to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability. The Government released the Commission’s report on 1 May 2014, and the report recommended that the Offices of the AASB and AUASB be merged to achieve operational efficiencies. The FRC notes that the Offices currently share many resources.

1.2.3 Broad strategic directions of the Boards

The FRC’s functions include determining the broad strategic directions of the AASB and AUASB. The FRC has developed guidelines to be applied in the development of any strategic directions that are issued to the Boards (Process for the Development and Issuing of Broad Strategic Directions by the FRC). The guidelines envisage that, in developing and issuing new and revised strategic directions, the FRC will take into account:

  • the Australian Government’s stated policies and priorities;
  • relevant international and domestic considerations impacting on the setting of accounting or auditing standards; and
  • the public interest in the context of the Australian economy.

Since its establishment, the FRC has made three determinations concerning the broad strategic directions of the AASB and AUASB. These directions sought to achieve the following key outcomes:

  • to require the AASB to work towards the adoption in Australia of accounting standards that are the same as those issued by the IASB, to ensure their applicability to Corporations Act entities for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005 (Direction approved 5 September 2002);
  • to require the AASB to pursue as an urgent priority the harmonisation of Government Finance Statistics (GFS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) reporting (Direction approved 12 December 2002); and
  • to require the AUASB to develop Australian auditing standards that have a clear public interest focus and are of the highest quality and to use, as appropriate, International Standards on Auditing issued by the IAASB as a base from which to develop the Australian standards (Direction approved 4 April 2005).

Each of these directions is still current. At the March 2013 meeting the FRC agreed to an AASB proposal to not proceed with issuing a standard to implement the previously agreed Phase 2 of GAAP GFS harmonisation, given the likely costs and benefits of the measure.