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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2504

Senator VANSTONE (5.52 p.m.) —I move:

  At the end of the motion, add:

"with the following amendment:

  `At the end, add:

    ", substitute the following subsection:

      `(3)The rules of procedural fairness, to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act and the Regulations made under it, apply to an inquiry.'.".'.".

The effect of this amendment is to add to the end of the motion moved by the minister a clause to ensure that the rules of procedural fairness, to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this act and regulations under it, will apply to an inquiry.

  When we discussed this matter on an earlier occasion there was a strong view in this chamber, supported by the Greens (WA) and by Senator Harradine, that it was important to ensure that such rules should apply. We expressed that strong concern because initially the government wanted to dispose of the rules of procedural fairness in these matters. We wanted to take the government at its word when it said everything would be satisfactory. We felt that that would be made clear when we saw the regulations. However, the government got into a bit of a spin about that because I understand that the regulations could be disallowed for another reason so that schedule 4 would not come into operation. Therefore, understandably that situation was not satisfactory to the government.

  We agreed in the other place to remove the clause because it created an ambiguity about which we were concerned. We felt that situation was satisfactory. However, subsequently we have discovered another problem and I understand the government will shortly be making a statement on that subject. This is contained in a letter from the Attorney-General and I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The letter read as follows—

30 June 1994

Senator Amanda Vanstone

Shadow Attorney-General

Parliament House


Dear Senator

I refer to our discussions of today's date in relation to the Corporations Legislation Amendment Bill 1994.

I confirm that the Government undertakes to amend the draft Regulations to ensure that if the Panel calls a conference pursuant to an inquiry, a person or company which may be the subject of a declaration pursuant to subsection 733(3) or an order pursuant to subsection 734(2) of the Corporations Law is entitled to appear before the Panel at such a conference.

I also confirm that the Government undertakes in the next available miscellaneous Corporations Bill to amend subsections 733(5) and 734(6) to ensure that this requirement is set out in the legislation.

Yours sincerely


Senator VANSTONE —The Attorney-General confirms that the next time there is a miscellaneous corporations bill the subsections will be amended to make the position clear. We are happy with that, and we are sorry we did not spot the problem earlier. We are very pleased that yet again the Senate has come to the party and fixed the problem.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Motion, as amended, agreed to.

  Resolution reported; report adopted.

  Debate resumed.