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Monday, 22 June 1998
Page: 3650

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (7:55 PM) —I was going to suggest to the Greens (WA) a couple of courses of action. I do have concerns—having spent the last 18 or 19 months of my life consulting with industry, investors, shareholders, people who manage funds and people who act as trustees for funds, on the fine detail of this legislation—that to make decisions not just on foot, as I think Senator Cook said earlier, but on the run, is not a sensible way. This bill was referred to a committee. Quite frankly, these amendments, at least for the government, appeared today.

I was going to suggest that perhaps a constructive process—if we want to proceed down a constructive path—may well be to refer these amendments for consideration by the joint parliamentary committee. If the government and the parliament find merit in them through an inquiry, they can be incorporated. The government would have to give consideration to their incorporation, but certainly it would be open to the Greens or any other senator to move them as amendments to the Corporate Law Economic Reform Bill which we expect will be introduced into the parliament next week and debated in the next sittings of parliament. That bill contains a significant number of amendments to the Corporations Law. It certainly would be an available vehicle to the Senate within a matter of days in terms of its introduction, and a matter of only weeks in terms of its debate in this chamber.

If you would like the industry that will be affected by these changes to be able to look at them—and they go into a whole range of areas to do with managed investments—I suggest that it would certainly be a more normal process to allow industry to have a view and a say on all of these amendments rather than us having to second-guess the impact they might have on managed investment schemes which, as has been pointed out by all honourable senators who have contributed to the debate, affect the lives of millions of investors across Australia. I ask Senator Margetts to give consideration to referring these amendments to the Corporations and Securities Joint Committee. I would undertake that when they are referred, as part of the committee's current reference in relation to the CLER legislation, that the government would look at the report of that committee and it would remain open to any senator to move amendments to that bill.

I really have trouble with legislating company law reform and managed investment reform when I do not know whether the industry has even seen these. Surely someone has, but today is the first time that the government has seen these amendments. I reiterate that, after 18 or 19 months or longer, in discussing the fine detail of this legislation, I find it a little bit of an insult to the industry and the investing public to be trying to redesign a piece of legislation with about six hours notice.