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Friday, 15 November 2002
Page: 6523


Senator ABETZ (Special Minister of State) (1:42 PM) —I was unaware that Senator Murray wanted to speak on this amendment. To have saved time, I would not have jumped up early. I indicate for the record that, whilst we will be opposing all of the amendments, we will be doing so on the voices and not seeking to divide, to save time. I indicated that in the debate yesterday and I just want to reiterate that today.

For the record, we as a government are concerned that a lot of people are going bankrupt without seeking proper advice. The information supports that when you consider that five per cent of bankrupts go bankrupt with debts of less than $2,000, 14 per cent of bankrupts go bankrupt with debts of less than $5,000 and 13 per cent of bankrupts, which is more than one in eight, have been bankrupt at least once before. ITSA's client survey shows that 43 per cent of bankrupts have not sought advice before becoming bankrupt. It is just becoming too easy, a quick option— get out of it again after six months or two months—with no real consideration being given as to whether that is an appropriate course of action. Indeed, in this survey by ITSA, 40 per cent of bankrupts do not recall reading the prescribed information before deciding to go bankrupt. Previous reforms aimed at encouraging debtors to think about alternatives are unfortunately not working.

Senator Murray quoted my argument from yesterday. With respect, the situation we are dealing with today was introduced into the act 10 years ago as an experiment. It has been reviewed and found not to be working. The matter that we will be dealing with no doubt later on was inserted into the act 36 years ago and we as a government would argue is working very well. But, Senator Murray, we will come to that debate at a later stage. We oppose the amendment.

Question agreed to.