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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 4064

Senator COOK (11:16 AM) —We approve the principle. We will support, however, the matter going to the JPC for report and coming back. Senator Murray rightly and fairly asked me to express a view about amendment 42. On amendment 42 we voted for the matter to be referred to the JPC rather than for the amendment to be carried at this stage. We are strongly in sympathy with the purpose of the amendment.

There are a couple of elements of the amendment, though, that cause us a little concern—perhaps `concern' is the wrong word; it is more about whether it is angled in the right way to achieve the result. The first part, in respect of amendment 42, is that an executive officer or director would be liable if they possessed information which they did not refer. What an auditor would do other than declare and pass on that information is not clear from the amendment.

There is a healthy debate out there as to what the proper role of an auditor is, and we would like to take some time to consider the import of your amendment, Senator Murray, and how best it could be implemented—and not to offend you by rejecting your amendment. Our reason for voting is for concerns of caution and proper application, not opposition to the sentiment or the principle of what you are trying to achieve. That applies to amendment 42; the same goes virtually for amendment 43. We will be supporting it being referred to the JPC as well.