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Friday, 23 October 1914

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) .- There is no getting away from the terms of the amendment. I do not care what is in the mind of Senator Keating when he says that he only desires that a copy should be in the hands of the Registrar. When I agreed to accept the insertion of the words " filed with "it was clearly my intention that the record should be there - not only that it should be there, but that it should be there to be inspected by creditors or others. Sub-clause 3 reads -

Any person stating in writing that he is a creditor of the bankrupt may, personally or by his agent, inspect the statement at all reasonable times.

What is the use of the honorable senator saying that there will be no filed statement when we deliberately provide in the same clause that a statement shall be made? I recognise the advantage which the honorable senator has in dealing with a measure of this kind, since he has discussed the Bill with representatives of the Chambers of Commerce, men whose character and capacity to deal with matters of this kind will not be questioned by any one. But the difference between them and the Government is that we are responsible for the Bill, whereas they are not. They may make recommendations which they believe to be in the public interest, but surely the Senate has also its responsibility in the matter. If, as Senator Keating has just urged, the question at issue was merely that of filing another paper, there would be no objection to his proposal. But this is the beginning of a series of amendments of which the honorable senator has given notice, with the object of inducing us to break away from the practice that we propose shall be followed in the Commonwealth - a well-beaten practice followed under the English Acts - and of substi tuting for it the New South Wales practice where the Registrar has extraordinary powers. It is for that reason that I resist his proposal. My opposition to it is strengthened when the honorable senator quite unconcernedly remarks that it is not open to me to say that any one experienced in bankruptcy law has participated in the drafting of the Bill. As a matter of fact, this Bill was referred to Judge Moule, one of the Victorian Judges in Bankruptcy, who is well qualified to express an opinion on the subject. It was submitted for his "consideration and approval, and, that being so, I think I can fairly claim that the Department has dealt carefully with the whole question, and has considered the Bill on its merits. I am not going to allow the new practice which we propose to be brought in under the Commonwealth law to be altered merely to allow the New South Wales practice to be adopted little by little. There must, of course, be a change. So far as the filing of these reports is concerned, they certainly will be filed ; it is our intention that they shall be filed and be accessible to the people. The Government will stand by the clause.

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