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Wednesday, 15 May 1985
Page: 1971

Senator RYAN (Minister for Education)(12.14) —The Government does not accept the Opposition's amendment with regard to dividing the two roles of Chairman and Managing Director. Senator Lewis has moved the amendment on behalf of the Opposition but the Opposition has made no case for such a change. As Senator Haines has pointed out, the present arrangement has worked very satisfactorily. The Housing Loans Insurance Corporation is an increasing success and the chairmanship of Mr Fitzpatrick has been endorsed by several speakers throughout this debate. There is simply no immediate case for making the change that the Opposition has put forward. Perhaps we could engage in a discussion at a philosophical level about the most appropriate structure for statutory bodies of this kind. Again, as Senator Haines has pointed out, the Government is examining its general policy on the operation of statutory authorities, including business authorities such as the HLIC. I expect that that paper will include consideration of the most appropriate composition for boards of directors and the most appropriate role for a chief executive. But at this stage it would be quite premature to change the HLIC structure ahead of the completion of that review. Certainly those matters can be addressed at a later stage but they are not appropriately addressed now.

I would also like to put on the record, in endorsement of Senator Haines's remarks, the fact that the present Chairman, who has been so successful, is not contemplating retirement at this stage. He has indicated to the Government his availability to continue in that position and the Government is currently considering this matter. We have a successful Corporation. We have a chief executive chairman arrangement which has been very successful. Mr Fitzpatrick is continuing in that position and, at this stage, there is no case for making changes. As Senator Haines has pointed out, to make premature changes could create problems for what has been a successful operation. We certainly do not want to do that. I ask the Opposition to reconsider its view and point out that the Government, supported by the Australian Democrats, will reject this amendment.