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Monday, 19 September 1994
Page: 876

Senator BOURNE —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Consumer Affairs. I believe from this morning's list that that is Senator Gareth Evans. I ask: given the size and importance of the proposed NRMA float, will the government request the NRMA to provide a `no' case to its members? Did the deputy chair of the Australian Securities Commission, who is also the junior vice-president of the NRMA, attend and vote at meetings where the future of the proposed float was decided? If so, what is the attitude of the ASC to this? Is similar information to that which the Trade Practices Commission found misleading and required to be stopped in press advertisements for the float still being used in television and radio advertisements? If so, will the government request the TPC to consider the future of those advertisements as well?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am advised by the minister—and, in this instance, it is the Attorney-General, so far as the first question is concerned—that the government has received representations from members concerned that the NRMA has not adequately presented the `no' case in relation to the NRMA float. While this is essentially an issue for the NRMA itself, we would ask it to consider the issue very carefully, given the special circumstances of this float and the need for members to have information which would allow them to make a fully informed choice concerning the proposed float.

  I should also add that the Corporations Law regulates both pre- and post-prospectus advertising in relation to dealings in securities. I am advised that the independent market regulator, the ASC, has been closely monitoring this matter in accordance with its powers under the Corporations Law and will continue to do so. I am also advised that the ASC is ensuring that all complainants who have raised concerns about the advertisements have had their attention drawn to the prospectus document that has been registered with the ASC.

  As to the second question, the Attorney-General has been advised by the ASC that the deputy chair of the ASC has had no involvement in any of the ASC decisions or discussions involving this matter. In the light of Senator Bourne's question, however, I will ask for that matter to be double-checked and I will advise the Senate whether there is any change required to that answer.

  On the third matter Senator Bourne raised, which was one squarely related to the consumer affairs minister's brief, I am advised by the minister that she has asked the Trade Practices Commission to examine whether possibly misleading statements have been made in media other than newspapers and, if so, to take the appropriate action.