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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1660

Ms O'DWYER (HigginsParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (16:26): I thank those members who have contributed to this debate. This has been a very good discussion about the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee. I would particularly like to place on record my admiration for the work that CAMAC has done in years past, but that is not to say that an organisation that has been set up should be set up in perpetuity. This bill, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Amendment (Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee Abolition) Bill 2014, will cease the operation of the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee, or CAMAC as it is known, and its legal committee and bring the legal identity of the agency to a close. Importantly, this bill ensures that, despite the cessation of CAMAC, the rights of third parties who have interacted with the agency prior to its abolition are not negatively impacted.

While the government recognises the contribution that CAMAC has made to the development of corporate and financial services law reform, the business environment has changed greatly since 1989, when the agency was first established. The professionalism and capacity of industry representative groups is now much stronger. Further, business is increasingly active in putting its views on the operation of the corporations laws to government without the need for an additional layer of taxpayer funded bureaucracy. In addition, Treasury and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission will continue to provide advice to the government about matters relating to corporate law, financial markets and financial services. Such advice will continue to be informed by regular engagement with relevant experts and industry. The government also retains the ability to commission specific reports and inquiries utilising market specialists on an ad hoc basis or to refer matters to other bodies, such as the Productivity Commission and the Australian Law Reform Commission for advice.

This bill fulfils the government's 2014-15 budget commitment to abolish CAMAC as part of its smaller governments agenda, delivering a smaller and more rational government footprint. This agenda is designed to cut waste and duplication while improving the efficiency and focus of the Commonwealth Public Service. As noted by the National Commission of Audit last year, there are too many government bodies in Australia. This leads to duplication and overlap, unnecessary complexity, a lack of accountability, the potential for uncoordinated advice and avoidable costs.

Having established a central list of all government bodies, it was staggering to see that the government inherited a total of 1,252 separate government bodies from the previous Labor government. That is far too many, and it is appropriate that the government review these bodies and, where necessary, take action. The government has acted to do something about this, reducing the number of government bodies by 251 since the election. Some of these actions have large, monetary values. For example, the government completed the sale of Medibank Private, raising $5.7 billion in proceeds that will be recycled into productivity enhancing and job creating infrastructure.

We have also merged AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, saving close to $400 million over four years. Others, like the abolition of CAMAC, have left significant savings. For example, we have ceased the Abalone Aquaculture Health Accreditation Workshop and the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation, while the role of the Grape and Wine Research and Development Selection Committee will be subsumed into the Department of Agriculture. However, when the savings from all smaller government reforms are combined, so far it is expected to total $539.5 million, making a significant contribution to much-needed budget repair.

The smaller government agenda will continue with a fourth tranche of reforms to be announced in the 2015-16 budget, including decisions after the consideration of scoping studies initiated in the 2014-15 budget. With this bill, the government is fulfilling its commitment to abolish CAMAC and its legal committee as part of the second phase of our smaller government reform agenda. It is an agenda that makes a significant contribution to repairing Australia's budget. I commend this bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question is that this bill be now read a second time.