The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is a statutory authority of the Australian Government and the prudential regulator of the Australian financial services industry. APRA was established on 1 July 1998 in response to the recommendations of the Wallis Inquiry. APRA's authority and scope is determined pursuant to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act, 1998 (Cth).
APRA oversees banks, credit unions, building societies, friendly societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance and most members of the superannuation industry. It was established on 1 July 1998. APRA is funded largely by the industries that it supervises. APRA currently supervises institutions holding A$5.4 trillion in assets for Australian depositors, policyholders and superannuation fund members.
It regulates banks, general and life insurance companies, superannuation funds, credit unions, building societies and friendly societies to ensure that these institutions keep their financial promises; that is, that they will remain financially sound and able to meet their obligations to depositors, fund members and policy holders.
The current chairman of APRA is Wayne Byres and the deputy chairman is Helen Rowell. Geoff Summerhayes is the third APRA member.
In June 1996, the Financial System Inquiry (known as the Wallis Inquiry) was established to examine the results of the deregulation of the Australian financial system, to examine the forces driving further change, particularly technological, and recommend changes to the regulatory system to ensure an "efficient, responsive, competitive and flexible financial system to underpin stronger economic performance, consistent with financial stability, prudence, integrity and fairness."
At the time, the regulators of the Australian financial services industry were based on the institutions and not the regulatory function. APRA's predecessor regulators were the Insurance and Superannuation Commission (ISC), the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Financial Institutions Commission (AFIC). The Wallis Inquiry recommended a new structure.
The role of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) was amended to deal with monetary policy and systemic stability with the Payments System Board considering payments systems regulation. The role of the Australian Prudential Regulation Commission (later to become APRA) was amended to deal with prudential regulation of Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADIs), life and general insurance, and superannuation including Industry superannuation. The Corporations and Financial Services Commission was renamed and its role expanded as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to deal with market integrity, consumer protection and corporations.
APRA was established on 1 July 1998 under the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act 1998.
APRA became prominent in the collapse of HIH Insurance in 2001 and for its investigation into the National Australia Bank foreign currency deal scandal in 2004. In 2018 Paul Harris, the chair of the Productivity Commission, was critical of the role of APRA in limiting hat price competition in banking. Representatives of APRA appeared before the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry during 2018.