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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 116

Senator SHERRY (Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law) (6:37 PM) —I was going to say ‘thanks to honourable senators’, but only one senator spoke, Senator Bernardi. I would like to thank him for taking part in the debate on the Corporations Amendment (No. 1) Bill 2008 [2009]. In summary, the bill establishes a framework by which individuals who are disqualified from managing companies in prescribed foreign countries can also be disqualified in Australia either automatically or by court order. As such, the bill will improve protection for investors and the integrity of Australia’s markets. New Zealand will be the first prescribed country that these provisions will operate in relation to; however, other countries will be able to be added at a later date.

The bill provides that a person will be automatically disqualified from managing corporations in Australia where they have been disqualified by a court in a prescribed country. In addition, an Australian court will have the power to disqualify a person from managing corporations on application by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission where the person has been disqualified under the law of a prescribed foreign country. This provision will cover situations where, for example, a person has been disqualified by a foreign regulator.

These arrangements will ensure that all people disqualified in Australia on the basis that they have been disqualified in a prescribed foreign country have had their disqualification scrutinised by a court. In this way, the bill addresses the specific concern that people who are disqualified from managing corporations in New Zealand could still manage corporations in Australia simply by crossing the Tasman. The bill fulfils a requirement under the Australian and New Zealand governments’ memorandum of understanding on business law coordination, moving us a step closer to achieving the policy goal of establishing a single trans-Tasman economic market based on common regulatory frameworks. New Zealand enacted its complementary provisions in 2007 and in the interest of cross-border consistency these amendments have been modelled on those of New Zealand. The regulations will be drafted in such a way as to allow other countries to be added at a later date.

Finally, I can inform the Senate that the Ministerial Council for Corporations—MINCO—was consulted in relation to these amendments to the laws and the national corporate regulation scheme and has approved them as required under the corporations agreement. I have also commenced consultation with MINCO on the accompanying regulations. Provided that approval is received, the regulation should be ready to commence contemporaneously with the provisions of the bill. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.