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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 902

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - The Opposition seeks to move an amendment to clause 17, which deals with the disclosure of financial interests of members of the Trade Practices Commission. The clause requires the disclosure by members of the Commission of their financial interests. I think that we are all aware that there has been a growing amount of controversy in Australia and in the United Kingdomand one could almost say that it is an issue which has captivated the United States of America in recent years- about the extent to which persons discharging public obligations and responsibilities should disclose what are their private interests which may be in conflict with their public duties. Quite properly, this Bill contains a clause that members of the proposed Trade Practices Commission should disclose their financial interests. But the Opposition is concerned as to what import should be given to such a disclosure. It is all very well for members to disclose what their interests are to the Chairman of the Commission. But is the Chairman to retain that information to himself and not pass it on to anybody else? What should be the state of knowledge of the public or persons who may be concerned with applications to the Commission? That is the area with which the Opposition is concerned. Therefore, we move:

After sub-clause ( I ), insert the following sub-clause: ( Ia) Where an interest is so disclosed to the Chairman and-

(a)   in the case of an interest in a business- the person carrying on the business: or

(b)   in the case of an interest in a body corporate- that body corporate, is concerned in an application before the Commission, being an application in the nearing and determination of which the member who has the interest is or will be participating, the Chairman shall cause the interest to be disclosed to the public.'.

The kernel of the amendment is in the last few words: 'the Chairman shall cause the interest to be disclosed to the public'. We have had assistance in drafting the amendment and, as I understand it, it complies with the pattern of other provisions in the Bill. Whether or not the provision should extend to an interest in a business as well as an interest in a body corporate is a matter which can be argued at some later stage and in some other place. Our purpose is to ensure that where a member discloses an interest, that interest is disclosed to any person who is involved in the application before the Commission. Such an interest ought not to be kept within the knowledge of the Chairman. The persons vitally concerned are the persons affected by the Commission's determinations. Again, we suggest that this is an amendment to which the Government could give favourable consideration.

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