This paper aims to offer an Australian perspective on the recent crisis of confidence in corporate governance and its legislative and regulatory aftermath. It is informative because Australia's experience is directly comparable with that of the USA but its professional and regulatory traditions are much less prescriptive.
The author dissects the corporate scandal of recent years and analyses the several issues which have arisen. Problem elements, once identified, are evaluated separately, followed by an examination of the responses in each country. The main value of the paper lies in the separation and categorisation of these issues. For clarity, the author groups them as technical, political and cultural and uses these three labels to distinguish between problems which are the responsibility of the accounting profession, the responsibility of regulatory agencies, and those faced by managers individually. There is brief mention of some other groups, like suppliers of professional business services, who have also fallen under critical scrutiny. At the same time, other groups associated with contemporary financial scandal are omitted for lack of space.
The paper includes some observed contrasts between the consequences of scandal in the two jurisdictions and ends with a number of personal judgements.
It is hoped that the judgements made in this paper may offer food for thought and some guidance for those seeking to advance best practice in this important but delicate area.
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