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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 82

(Question No. 942)

Senator Peter Rae asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 6 June 1984:

(1) Does the Attorney-General believe that the National Companies and Securities Commission Act still needs redrafting to provide for:

(i) an extension of the scope and enforceability of its financial interests provisions,

(ii) a requirement that hearings of the Commission be normally held in public, and

(iii) the explicit prescription of the matters on which the Commission must annually report; if so, does the Attorney-General propose to take any action to amend the legislation as above; if not, why not.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(i) The Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities considered the scope of the financial interests provisions of the National Companies and Securities Commission Act 1979 at a meeting last year. The Council resolved that further consideration of this issue should await finalisation of the general policy to be arrived at concerning Commonwealth public servants and statutory office- holders.

(ii) While sub-section 36 (2) of the National Companies and Securities Commission Act 1979 provides the Commission with a discretion to hold a hearing in public or private, I am satisfied that the Commission is applying an acceptable policy in determining whether or not to hold a hearing in public and that there is no present need to amend the Act.

(iii) While there is value in legislation containing detailed prescription of the matters to be included in annual reports, in the present circumstances it is appropriate to take account of the high standard of reports which have been produced by this Commission (see my commendation and that of the honourable senator in Hansard, 1982 Vol. s. 93 pages 155-7).