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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3574

(Question No. 1369)

Senator Mason asked the Minister for Finance, upon notice, on 16 September 1986:

(1) What are the function or functions of the Statutory Authorities titled, Controller of Enemy Property.

(2) How many people are currently employed by the Authority on a part-time or a full-time basis.

(3) How many of these people are employed in an honorary capacity.

(4) To what extent is each Authority subsidised by the private sector, and what has been the cost to the Australian Government for maintaining the Authorities for each year of its existence.

(5) Is it a fact that each Authority is not required to produce an annual report, if so, why not.

Senator Walsh —The answer to the honour- able senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Office of the Controller of Enemy Property was created under the National Security (Enemy Property) Regulations on 26 September 1939 to deal with all debts or other property held for, or due to, ``enemy subjects'' as defined in the Regulations and the Trading with the Enemy Act 1939 (as amended).

No enemy property from World War II is now held or administered by the Commonwealth. Such property, or the proceeds from its realisation, has long since been dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the relevant International Agreements and Treaties of Peace.

The Government has decided to repeal the principal legislation, the Trading with the Enemy Act 1939, and it is intended to give effect to that decision in the next Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill. Thus the Office of the Controller of Enemy Property, which has for some time been a purely nominal one and attached to an office occupied full-time on other normal duties, will cease to exist upon passage of that Bill.

(2) None.

(3) Not applicable.

(4) The Office of the Controller is not subsidised to any extent by the private sector. There are no records of the cost to the Australian Government for maintaining the Office for each year of its existence since 1939. In recent years, however, there have been no costs except for those associated with answering occasional inquiries from persons seeking to trace particular interests in the property of former enemy subjects.

(5) The legislation establishing the Office of the Controller of Enemy Property did not require the production of an annual report. In view of the fact that the Office has had no active functions for some years, and that the legislation was moribund, no point was seen in more recent times to introducing such a requirement.