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Wednesday, 13 May 1981
Page: 2322

Mr MOUNTFORD(5.24) —I agree with my colleague the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown) that there should be greater access by the Commission to companies' books so that more public accountability exists. I also mention at this stage that I did not say in my earlier remarks that all subsidiary companies set out to take the public in or, indeed, to take creditors in. I said that some of them are set up for that purpose, particularly in high risk areas. I believe that if the Commission is given the proper power it deserves under this clause, it would do away with a lot of those cases involving failed companies. If the Commission was of the opinion that a company was going bad, or likely to go bad, it could pull the books in, make the company more accountable to the public and at least stop some businesses folding up. I believe that particularly in the New South Wales Companies Act there are proper provisions for this. Certainly there is more power in that Act than there is in this legislation. As my colleague the honourable member for Parramatta mentioned earlier, this Bill has been brought together by taking the very least from all of the State Acts; so there is a lowest common denominator. I believe that the Commonwealth should have used its powers more and introduced a national Companies Act rather than this emasculated legislation which we now have. As far as clause 12 is concerned, I believe that insufficient powers have been given to the Commission and I believe that they should so be given.