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Thursday, 26 June 2003
Page: 17833

Mr FITZGIBBON (11:43 AM) —The Export Control Amendment Bill 2003 highlights the important ongoing role government has to play in overseeing and regulating corporate activity. It is very timely. Only last week, I raised in this place the issue of the closure of the Nardell coalmine in my electorate. In particular, on that occasion, I raised my concern about the role the Macquarie Bank had played in the mine's demise. In last Friday's Australian Financial Review, Macquarie Bank rejected the claims I made in this place last week and said that they have irrefutable proof that my claims were incorrect.

Today I call upon the bank to make that irrefutable proof available to me, to Nardell's unsecured creditors and to the unit holders in Macquarie Investment Trust III. I pose this question: why would any of us, including investors in MIT III, take Macquarie Bank's word at face value? In uncontested evidence given before the New South Wales Industrial Commission, it was submitted that the bank's senior executive, Mr Andrew Downe, once told a colleague:

Not everything gets booked into Macquarie's system.

The same Andrew Downe, in the same conversation, said of a colleague in Macquarie Bank:

Mark Forde's attitude worries me. He has a hang-up with moral responsibility.

This is the bank that asks us to take its comments relating to irrefutable evidence on face value. Today I call upon it to make that irrefutable proof available to me, Nardell's unsecured creditors, who collectively—

Ms Worth —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I was wondering whether my colleague is aware of what bill we are debating. I have not recognised any reference to it at this stage. He may have been confused.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mossfield)—I will call the member again. The bill is for an act to amend the Export Control Act 1982 and for related purposes. I ask the member to refer to the bill in his contribution.

Mr FITZGIBBON —I note the point of order. I was simply making the point that in many ways this bill does not go to corporate responsibility. The example I just gave underpins the need for government to play a very strong hand in regulating that activity. Today I call on the Treasurer to exercise his power under section 14 of the ASIC Act and direct ASIC to take a very serious look at Macquarie's activities—

Ms Gambaro —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. This has nothing to do with ASIC. It relates to an export control amendment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask the member to link what he is saying to the bill that we are debating.

Mr FITZGIBBON —I will indeed. This is a bill that goes very much to our export markets. Nardell Coal was exporting coal. That was the very basis of the operation of the mine. I will close on this point. I express my great disappointment that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer has written to me suggesting that the Treasurer has no power to direct ASIC under section 12 of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act—

Ms Gambaro —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. The member is really straying beyond the topic. He is clearly not speaking to the bill. I have raised this point of order once before. I ask you to bring him back to the matter of the bill which we have before us. We are all waiting to hear from him with regard to the content of that bill.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —Once again, I draw the attention of members to the title of the bill, `A Bill for an Act to amend the Export Control Act 1982, and for related purposes'. I ask all speakers to direct their remarks to that bill.

Mr FITZGIBBON —I will indeed, Mr Deputy Speaker. In doing so, I just make the point that I believe section 14 of the ASIC Act takes precedence over section 12. The purpose of the bill before the House specifically is to amend the Export Control Act 1982. It attempts to do so in two ways. The first is a redraft of part of subsection 11Q(5) as a consequence of the repeal of section 16 of the act by the Criminal Code. The second—

Ms Gambaro —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. There is nothing relating to the bill that deals with section 14, ASIC and the Criminal Code. I ask you to bring the member back to the bill. From my understanding, we have not reached today's adjournment debate. I ask that the member be brought back to the topic of the bill.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —For guidance, the Export Control Amendment Bill says in part:

Section 16 of the Act created an offence of making a false or misleading statement in declarations furnished for the purposes of the regulations. This offence was repealed and replaced by offences in the Criminal Code by the Criminal Code Amendment (Theft,Fraud. Bribery and Related Offences) Act 2000.

It is a fairly broad act. I call upon the member to speak and I ask him to speak to the bill.

Mr FITZGIBBON —I will, indeed, Mr Deputy Speaker. Like the Treasurer, the member for Petrie obviously does not understand the bill before the House today. Either the Treasurer does not understand the ASIC Act over which he has control or it just suits him not to understand the acts over which he has control.

Before I was interrupted, I was about to make the second point about what the bill before the House seeks to do: the bill attempts to amend section 23 to allow certificates issued in relation to goods for export to describe goods that originate from Christmas Island or from the Cocos Islands as goods from those territories. Our market access depends on our disease-free status and the fact that, when people overseas buy Australian, they know—or at least they did know—what they are getting. That is very important. The inability of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to manage this key area of his portfolio is of concern to us all and should be a wakeup call to all those in government. The amendment seeks to preserve trade benefits that arise from Australia's unique pest- and disease-free status. It is something that Labor takes very seriously. On that basis, we are happy to support the bill.