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Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Page: 11

Senator SHERRY (Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law) (1:44 PM) —There has been a fair amount of discussion on this matter. I just want to go to amendments—and we are moving (2), (5), (7) and (8) together. In respect of (2) and (5), we do not overstate the case, Senator Brandis. I do not believe that it would be correct to say that—

Senator Brandis —I am not saying that you are overstating the case. But to the extent to which you make the case, you are wrong.

Senator SHERRY —We would argue that you are too bleak in your outlook, Senator Brandis. Perhaps it is all those appearances in the Federal Court that have led you to the conclusion that costs cannot be saved anywhere at any time.

Senator BRANDIS (1:47 PM) —You should just trust to my cynicism.

Senator SHERRY —I am not suggesting that you are being cynical. Why not give it a go. We are not suggesting that there will be widespread massive savings, but why not at least attempt to have some provision that would permit some savings perhaps? We are not gilding the lily in terms of claims that costs will come down across the board, because that will not happen. But we really do not see why it is not unreasonable to actually attempt to do this. If the opposition’s amendments are carried, we do not even get to first base—we do not even attempt to do it. The arguments have been well put.

The other comments that I want to go to concern specifically (7) and (8). We do think that this may be an opposition error in respect of amendments (7) and (8). The opposition’s refusal to accept the government’s amendments to the ASIC Act in schedule 3 of the bill, which these amendments deal with, fails to recognise the existing jurisdiction of the Federal Magistrates Court. The Federal Magistrates Court already has jurisdiction in relation to claims of unconscionable conduct in financial services. It already has that jurisdiction and that jurisdiction was conferred on the Federal Magistrates Court by the now Liberal opposition when they were in government. So they are reversing something that they in fact did, and we find that approach difficult to understand.