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Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 676

Senator RICHARDSON —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is the Minister aware of continuing Press reports on the financial crisis surrounding Telford Property Fund Ltd and associated trust companies. Has the Government the power, via the National Companies and Securities Commission, to investigate the trusts involved to ensure that there have been no breaches of the law and that unit holders' investments are secure. Is the Government satisfied that the new arrangements announced by the trustees will provide a solution to the problem? Further, is the Government aware of any large scale problems for other property trusts?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I wish somebody would ask me a question about pipes or holes, Mr President. I am beginning to feel a bit unloved in my new portfolio. It is the case that the NCSC has the power to investigate that trust, if it is thought necessary. The New South Wales Corporate Affairs Commission, I am advised by the Attorney-General, as the delegate of the NCSC, has been keeping in very close contact with the relevant trustees of the Telford trusts and has been keeping the NCSC in touch with developments. There is a report in today's Australian Financial Review that one trustee of the various Telford trusts is perfectly satisfied that the trusts are sound and can continue to operate profitably. The trustee has taken a range of initiatives summarised in the Press today. I am advised that the relevant Corporate Affairs Commission is satisfied, as is the trustee, that these steps should allow the trusts to continue in a sound and orderly way.

As to the last part of Senator Richardson's question, governments, the NCSC and corporate affairs commissions have been monitoring the industry closely. There are not, as far as I am advised, other large scale problems. This is partly because of steps taken by the Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities at its Darwin meeting in August last year. The outcome of these steps was the extensively revised guidelines released by the NCSC at the beginning of this week, in its Release 121. That release contains a wide range of measures which will ensure that investors are fully informed before and during their investment decisions.