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Friday, 15 November 2002
Page: 6526

Senator LUDWIG (1:58 PM) —I was not going to add to the debate—I know we are not going to divide on it—but I do not think I can let the minister's comments on the bankruptcy task force report go. There are numerous ways you can apprise the opposition of confidential reports that you may have some concern about. I do not need to specify the mechanisms that you can employ, Mr Temporary Chairman, but I am sure the government is aware of those mechanisms. If you say there are practices that are too horrible to mention because they might be reproduced, does that leave us with the position that there are currently practices of barristers—high-flying barristers, for that matter—that have been going on for some 10 months without your having addressed them? That would concern me. I am sure that that is not the case and that you can say, for the record, that that is not the case. It would be helpful if we were at least assured of that. But you have had more than 10 months now to deal with that report to either bring—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Lightfoot)—Senator Ludwig, for the sake of Hansard, you are referring to the minister, not me, aren't you? I would rather you directed your remarks to me, just to save any ambiguity.

Senator LUDWIG —The government has had more than 10 months to deal with it. The government has failed to resolve the matter. The government, it seems, has been derelict in resolving it. If the government is saying, through the minister, that it has been unable to resolve it in 10 months, one wonders what the government has been doing other than sitting on its hands. Turning to the more germane matter, the amendments before us, I remind the government that it accepted the recommendation in part by amending the law to require a declaration of association only by trustees administering a deed or composition under part X but not by controlling trustees. That is not to say that it is not a part that the government has not dealt with before and continued. In 1993 the government stated that ITSA, the trustees audit program, made a declaration of association provision unnecessary. But perhaps the minister can tell me this: does ITSA still do the trustee audit program? If it does not, perhaps that is why we are now seeking to have it put back in.

Senator Abetz —The answer is we do.

Senator LUDWIG —You still do the trustee audit program—is that what you are saying?

Senator Abetz —I thought that was your question, and we answered, `We do.'

Senator LUDWIG —Thank you. That issue was removed when you first introduced the legislation in 1996. You then said that it was no longer of practical utility and that the costs of administering it were no longer necessary. Have you changed your mind since then and reintroduced it? When did you reintroduce it and what are the costs of the program?