Accounting meets politics: A theoretical interpretation of historical events of the accounting profession in Australia

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)peer-review


Two major factors provided the impetus for this paper’s analysis of the current
power structure within the Australian accounting profession. First, recent corporate collapses in Australia have called into question the credibility of the profession. Second, the recent government intervention in regulating the financial affairs of firms warrants an examination of the existing structures within the accounting profession to determine what would compel governmental intervention. Two events which have illustrated the failure of the accounting profession in Australia and have subsequently shifted the power of accounting decision-making to the government are examined in this study.
The historical development of the accounting profession in Australia, from the 1940s until the year 2000, point to a series of events which strengthened its authoritative position, over a period of time, and another series of events which weakened its
authoritative position, over a period of time.
This rise in the authority of the accounting profession, which took place prior to this period, took a turn in 1984 when ASRB (Australian Standards Review Board) was established under the auspices of a statutory regulatory body NCSC (now Australian
Securities Investment Commission). The main function of this board was to enforce firm compliance with accounting standards, and to make accounting standards more suitable to the private sector. The preferred position to construct the ASRB with a majority of accountants nominated by the accounting profession was rejected, which gave rise to the possibility of recognising the standards developed by a body not controlled by the accounting profession.
The early 1990s is characterized by the accounting profession attempting to present financial reporting in a more logical and consistent fashion, but at the same time they were criticized for adopting the American conceptual framework as a basis, a
framework which was compromised and flawed in its development. The late 1990s was a period in which other constituents questioned the legitimacy of the techniques used by
the accountancy profession in financial reporting.
Although no one interest group can impose a unilateral solution, past case studies indicate ways an interest group can enhance the capability of imposing a preferred solution.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
Event10th World Congress of Accounting Historians - St. Louis, MO and Oxford, MS, United States
Duration: 1 Aug 20045 Aug 2004


Conference10th World Congress of Accounting Historians
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySt. Louis, MO and Oxford, MS
Internet address


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