Australia Takes on Finance Big Guns

Article excerpt

Australia will go head-to-head against Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo in the quest to be the region's leading financial centre after the Federal Government's decision to spend A$7 million to promote the nation's global financial services.

Australia's financial sector welcomed the move, but cautioned it was only the first step towards making Australia a world-leading competitor.

The funding, which was announced as part of the Federal Budget released this month, was allocated over two years and includes the formation of a taskforce to promote the goal.

The International Finance Centre Taskforce will be established within the Treasury Department and be operational from July 1.

To be based in Sydney, the taskforce will be made up of public and private sector representatives. It will be headed by a senior financial sector executive.

The taskforce's tasks include developing and coordinating a promotional campaign, and providing policy advice to the government.

Prime Minister Mr John Howard said a committee of regulators would also be established. The committee, including representatives from the Reserve Bank of Australia, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the Tax Office and others, would consider regulatory and promotional issues associated with establishing Australia as a global financial sector.

Other initiatives announced include improving data collection to benchmark Australian performance and the reopening of Treasury's office in Singapore. …