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Thursday, 1 December 1960

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) . - in reply - It is a fact, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has just suggested, that this is the first amendment of this legislation since 1937. Whether there should be an insurance commissioner in this field examining a mass of material comparable in scale with that relating to life assurance business is a matter of policy which has been considered by the Government. There are many differences in the two classes of business. This measure deals with short-term risks. It is because of the short-term aspect that it has been felt desirable to introduce a system of deposits. In the case of life assurance companies, the schemes are backed by the enormous assets held by those companies; but, in the absence of a system of deposits with the Government, a general insurance company might not be able to meet the claims lodged against it. The fact that there is to be a deposit varying in amount up to the maximum set out in the amending legislation, and based on the premiums received, does ensure that information as to premiums received will be provided. The deposit required will be calculated on the premium income. 'It is believed that, in the circumstances, the additional expense involved in supplying information that might be of doubtful value to the general public would not be warranted.

Mr Crean - No annual report is required under the act.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - No. What is required is a statement of premium income. Once the premium income is known, the deposit can be determined. If deposits are hypothecated for the purpose of this legislation, the individual is assured of some security.

In answer to the honorable member's question about the exclusion of funeral and burial benefits schemes 'I point out that, up to 1958, it was accepted that such schemes did not constitute insurance business, and it is because some doubts have arisen since then that it was decided to make the positron clear. That is why such schemes have been specifically excluded.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

The bill.

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