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Wednesday, 27 March 1985
Page: 862


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(11.07) —For reasons which I spelt out at some length in my second reading reply and which I have no need here to repeat, the Government will maintain its position on clause 15. We are indebted to the support of the Australian Democrats in that respect. Through Senator Haines, they have played a constructive role, although not always initially to the Government's taste, in securing amendments to the first draft of this legislation that was introduced last year.

Senator Durack's continued defence of the razor gang decision can only be described as ideological rather than rational in its content. Senator Haines identified the deficiencies in his position in that respect very aptly. The only new material put on the record in Senator Durack's contribution to the Committee stage of this debate was a reference to the additional costs involved in a significant number of matters reverting to the Official Receiver. The cost of the extra staff involved will be met by, first, the termination of work of the temporary task force of 47 officers, presently working in the branch, to overcome backlogs that largely mounted up during the period of Senator Durack's tenure of the office of Attorney-General. On top of that, additional income will be received by the Government, to some extent from increases in official fees that were not designed for this purpose. Also, more particularly, additional income will come from the increased earning capacity of the common investment fund, or the CIF, which fund comprises the proceeds of the sale of assets in bankruptcies. At present, in the 20 per cent of bankruptcies which are administered by private trustees, these funds are held by private trustees in trust accounts and do not attract any significant interest. That situation will change to the extent that the administrations are run by the Official Receiver. So on all counts-rationality and experience in the field-it would appear that the Opposition's objections to this clause are unfounded. We urge the Senate to vote accordingly.

Clause agreed to.

Remainder of Bill-by leave-taken as a whole, and agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.