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Macquarie Law School

Steven Townsend

Law HDR Student - Steven Townsend

BCom (Newcastle), LLB, MComLaw (Macq), CA, CTA, GradDipLP, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW

Thesis Title

The regulation of auditor ethical behaviour in Australia - the problem of conflicts of interest and proposal for structural reform


I hold a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Bachelor of Laws degree, Master of Commercial Law, and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice.  
I am a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Tax Advisor, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW, and my name is entered in the High Court Register of Practitioners.

Thesis Overview

My Doctor of Philosophy in Law research commenced in July 2007 to address the problem of conflicts of interest which have been allowed to flourish within the registered company auditor-client relationship in Australia.  Attention was focussed on how accountants achieved their professional status and the regulation that governs their conduct.

My thesis offers a unique solution to the problems of auditor conflicts by proposing the assurance function break free of its current model.  It found that the situation could be improved by the introduction of financial statement insurance. Under this model, the assurance task is redesigned so that new insurance relationships restrict the opportunity for conflicted stakeholder relations to dominate.  

I conducted my research on a part-time basis, with my thesis now under examination. Upon completing my research, I concluded that the insurance alternative is a workable solution which warrants further development for the Australian situation. This level of work was out of scope for my thesis, and I now plan to advance the concept to develop a working model by completing a further research degree.


Principal supervisor:  Associate Professor Malcolm Voyce
Associate Supervisor:  Associate Professor  Vijaya Nagarajan


  • The institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
  • The Tax Institute of Australia


  • Law society of NSW - Practicing certificate (Government - restricted)