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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3454

(Question No. 5045)

Mr Jacobi asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 17 February 1987:

(1) Further to his answer to my question No. 2217 (Hansard, 23 May 1986, page 3916), (a) when did the major review of the structure, organisation and method of the Bankruptcy Branch of his Department begin, (b) what were the terms of reference of the review, (c) who was responsible for undertaking the review and (d) when is the review expected to be completed.

(2) When did the Law Reform Commission complete its report on insolvency and when will amendments to the Bankruptcy Act, as suggested in his answer, be introduced into Parliament.

Mr Lionel Bowen —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) (a) The review of the Bankruptcy Branch commenced on 10 November 1986.

(b) The terms of reference of the Review were to;

(i) Examine and report on the changes to work load and methods of operation of the Bankruptcy Branch resulting from amendments to the Bankruptcy Act and other new enactments passed and expected to be passed in the period 1980/1990.

(ii) Examine and recommend changes necessary to the structure, organisation and establishment of the Branch in order that it be able to effectively and efficiently perform the commitments and work load ascertained in (i) above.

(c) The review team was led by Mr Andrew Warden, a partner from K. M. G. Hungerfords. Other team members were Mr Digby Ross, Certified Practising Accountant, Official Receiver, Hobart, Mr Mark Zanker, Senior Legal Officer, Bankruptcy Policy Section, Mr David Waller, Management Improvement Branch, Attorney-General's Department.

(d) The report of the Review was presented to the Secretary of my Department on 20 January 1987 and is presently under consideration.

(2) The Australian Law Reform Commission has not yet completed its report on insolvency, but is expected to do so by the end of 1988. I intend introducing a bill to amend the Bankruptcy Act this session. The Bill will contain measures to enhance the investigatory powers of trustees in bankruptcy and enable the recoupment of assets from corporations, partnerships and trusts which are alter egos of a bankrupt; to introduce a pre-bankruptcy moratorium to prevent unnecessary bankruptcies; to reform the voluntary procedures under Part X of the Bankruptcy Act to ensure that creditors receive full and timely information about debtors' affairs; and to improve and simplify procedures under the Bankruptcy Act.