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Wednesday, 29 April 1987
Page: 2013

Senator COONEY(5.42) —The report by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs entitled `The Role of Parliament in Relation to the National Companies Scheme' has received general approbation throughout the community-and so it should. It deals with a matter about which something now has to be done, that is, the growth of worldwide business, if you like, which is mainly dealt with by companies. It also deals with the exchange of securities, which again is becoming worldwide. There is more and more pressure for a central scheme to operate and for it to be controlled by one body. The report recommends that the body be the Commonwealth Parliament. It may reasonably be said that that is the majority opinion.

Senator Hill needs to be congratulated because he was the one, I think, who suggested that the matter be referred from the Senate to the Committee. While I am in the field of congratulations, I congratulate Senator Bolkus, who has now assumed the chairmanship of the Committee, taking over from Senator Tate, who filled the chair most splendidly. I am sure that Senator Bolkus will follow in that line. Looking across at Senator Puplick I say that, although Senator Hill and Senator Bolkus have both given great service to this report and to the Senate, they were during a considerable amount of the time that was spent on this report doing their duty before the United Nations. Looking at the record on this reference, the two people who stood like rocks and brought their considerable minds to bear on the whole matter were Senator Puplick and me.

A paper by the Hon. James Kennan, the Attorney-General of Victoria who was the Chairman of the Ministerial Council for the Companies and Securities Commission for a significant period and who generously gave evidence before the Committee, is included in the report. It should be said that the Ministerial Council has served company schemes throughout Australia well. It has been-I hope this is how it will be considered in future times-a very necessary step towards the goal which I hope will be attained following this report of having a national scheme set up and legislated for through this Parliament. I want to set down the Committee's enthusiasm-I think this would be the feeling of all Committee members-for the fact that the Ministerial Council stepped in at a time when company regulations and the regulation of securities were very much in need of a national body. The Ministerial Council performed that function on a co-operative basis. Although it filled that role very well, its time has now perhaps gone. As I say, I hope that new legislation will be put through this Parliament to set up a national scheme. It is sure to get the co-operation of everybody here. Australia would then take its place in the world of security exchanges by bodies which operate more and more on an international basis rather than on a national basis. The stock exchange is the prime example of that. I join Senator Hill in thanking the staff of the Committee and commend the report to the Senate.