In 2019, James made a submission and appeared before Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry into Regulation of Auditing in Australia, Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, Canberra 29 November 2019. There is a video of his testimony on YouTube: https://youtu.be/gJ48NZYMamg. Several Australian Financial Review (AFR) articles featured the 45 minute period before the committee:
The thrust of the submission and evidence in person is that the state of external audit and the Big 4 partnerships are a global issue, not just a national problem. This grand challenge for nation-states is like the worldwide project on taxation and multinational corporations and high wealth individuals. Without global solutions and regulation in the audit space, we will continue to observe significant conflicts, inherent risks to the financial sector and the Australian economy and people and finally, a continued hollowing out of the nation-state in Australia. James observed, first, the external audit role is critical for the functioning of capital markets and economic stability in global markets. In the past significant company failures or systematic financial failures, as occurred during the global financial and banking crisis in 2008, impacted tens of millions of people financially and the various nation-states required to bail out banking and financial services and re-nationalise industries for $US100s billions.
Second, audit quality concerns include whether the Big 4 are doing enough work to be able to assure the financial statement results of a client and whether there is a conflict of interest in the way the Big 4 accounting partnerships operate. Third, the primary measure of audit quality must be market failures and financial collapses in companies and other organisations. Market failure is more likely where there is an oligopoly, as is the case with the nature and size of the Big 4. Significant financial collapses of companies during the global financial crisis and banking failures and in more recent times in Australia, UK, USA and Europe have occurred, in many cases, within weeks of these organisations receiving clean audit reports.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry into Regulation of Auditing in Australia, Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services