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Thursday, 2 December 1976

Mr Antony Whitlam (GRAYNDLER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is a most unsatisfactory explanation. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) for more than half his time set up a proposition with which no one on this side was disagreeing. We all accept the explanation of the provision which is found in the explanatory notes which were circulated. That states:

Clause 5 . . . Releases from the obligation to notify price increases those subsidiaries of prescribed companies which have annual turnovers not exceeding $5m.

The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) put to the Minister and to the Committee that this will lead to the fragmentation of existing groups of companies in order to avoid the notification procedures. If the Minister is not aware of ways in which companies can avoid paying duty on the disposition of assets, I will be pleased to tell him. But I suspect that he is aware and that the honourable members behind him are aware. There will be a considerable opportunity for existing groups of companies to set up new subsidiaries, to incorporate existing divisions and this kind of thing. In relation to the point that there is a carrying cost involved in organising different groups of companies, the Minister will remember back to the days when companies used to organise so many different subsidiaries so that they were below the threshold for payroll tax. That is a very common thing for business to do in this country. If the Government sets up a procedure, mark my words business will use the device the Government is laying open to it. The Minister has not given any explanation as to why the subsidiaries are to be exempt from the notification procedures of this legislation.

Clauses agreed to.

Clause 7.

After section 7 ofthe Principal Act the following section is inserted:- "7a. (1) The Minister, after consultation with the Chairman, may appoint persons to be associate members of the Tribunal. "(4) The Chairman may, by writing signed by him, direct that, for the purposes ofthe exercise ofthe powers of the Tribunal in connexion with an inquiry and report in relation to a specified matter, not being an exercise of those powers by a Division of the Tribunal, a specified associate member or specified associate members shall be deemed to be a member or members of the Tribunal and, in that case, unless the contrary intention appears, a reference in this Act to a member of the Tribunal shall, for the purposes only of the exercise of the powers of the Commission m connexion with that inquiry and report, be construed as including a reference to that associate member or each of those associate members, as the case may be.

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