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Tuesday, 2 May 1961


Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- I remain unimpressed and uninformed by the orations delivered by the honorable members for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) and Sturt (Mr. Wilson). The honorable member for Swan said that he hoped that he had been reasonably successful in explaining the intricate details of this clause to the committee. For my part, I am reasonably unimpressed by certain comments of the honorable member. We are still as uninformed on this clause as we were when the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) spoke. I do not intend to go into all the figures again but to-night we have heard about the relationship between a, b and c. Even the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who is recognized, at least by himself, as one of the brightest intellects in the Parliament, said that this was all mumbojumbo. I think that that is quite clear from the two speeches that have just been made.

It is necessary to turn to the expert for details of the matters incorporated in this bill. How do we know that the hidden meaning of the algebraic expressions in this clause is not contrary to what the Government intends? For instance, I ask whether any honorable member is competent to understand the following sub-paragraph which appears on page 12 of the bill: -

(ii)   the cost of the public securities (other than Commonwealth securities) included in the assets of the insurance funds of the company was not less than the cost of the public securities (other than Commonwealth securities) included, on that day, in the assets of the insurance funds of the company, in accordance with the formula

 

I suppose that if that formula does not suit we can use the

 

formula, if it pro duces the greater amount. Will any one say that the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) or the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) explained to our satisfaction what that provision means? Then we drop down the scale to paragraphs (b) and (c) which read -

(b)   in the case of any other company in relation to which that section applies - in accordance with the formula

 

; or

(c)   in the case of a company that is not a company in relation to which that section applies - in accordance with the formula

 

or the formula

 

whichever produces the greater amount.

At schoolI was a keen student of algebra, but I say quite frankly that this provision is beyond my comprehension. I do not know what this clause is intended to convey to the Parliament. I know that it is necessary to rely on experts in these matters, but could any member of the Government explain to the satisfaction of electors or of any member of the Parliament just what that provision means in terms of pounds shillings and pence to the life assurance companies or others who will be affected by the legislation? I suppose that this is one of the most remarkable documents ever presented to the Parliament. It is written in such a way - no doubt deliberately - as to make it incomprehensible to honorable members, and I defy the Treasurer, who has failed to explain satisfactorily much less complicated financial problems, to explain what the clause really means. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) asked, how can any member go back and lucidly, explain to his electorate the meaning of the items on pages 12 and 13 of the printed copy of the bill?

I believe that such matters should be written into the bill so that they are capable of interpretation by members of the Parliament. When the Treasurer explained this rather complicated legislation in broad detail in his second-reading speech, honorable members never thought for one moment that the bill would be more like an algebra textbook for use in high schools than anything else. I do not know what the Treasurer intends to do about it, or whether or not he can alter it now, but certainly a lot of things in the bill need explaining, and we have not had them satisfactorily explained by the Government back-bench supporters. It is of no use saying that there is no need for us to understand exactly what

 

 

I do not want to put any sinister interpretation on the intentions of the Treasurer, but is the Government, in some way or other, trying to put over on the insurance companies something that it is not game to announce that it is doing? The Treasurer is a man well versed and well skilled in the art of politics, although in recent times he has slipped in his approach to a few things. He may be getting his own back on the insurance companies through this legislation, and what better way is there to do it than under a formula like

 

 

better way could there be of doing this than by using the formula

 

What hidden meaning is behind that? How much is it going to amount to in terms of pounds, shillings and pence?

If there is no sinister intention by the Government, why are not these provisions written in plain English instead of in algebra? These matters are well worth investigating. I hope that the Treasurer will enlighten the Parliament, if he can, by showing that there is no sinister intention in this clause. Why should this provision be in algebra? I suppose that this is the first time in the history of the Parliament that such a thing has been done. With other honorable members on this side, as well as Government supporters, I am concerned about the approach taken in the legislation. The Government's intentions in any measure should be plain so that honorable members may discuss them. They should not be shrouded in an algebraic formula, as they are in this bill. The Minister for Social Services-

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lucock).Order! I remind the honorable member that the Minister for Social Services is not concerned with this bill.


Mr DALY - I was only making a passing reference to the fact that he might write some such formulas into social services legislation so that the Government would be able to reduce pensions, or something of that sort. I ask the Treasurer to explain the whole of the figures shown in the clause in a way that will enable honorable members to explain them to their electors, to people in life assurance companies and to others who will be affected by the legislation. We should be able to explain to them that this is not the implementation of a gross socialistic plot by the Government to take more than it wants people to know it is taking. We should be able to satisfy the people that this is not an effort by the Treasurer to disguise the real meaning of the bill by using algebraic formulas instead of plain English. We should be able to satisfy ourselves and our electors that this legislation does not mean something entirely different from what is intended.







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