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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1977

Senator RAE (Tasmania) -Mr Deputy President,notice of motion No. 1 in my name is a motion related to the reappointment of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. Before proceeding further I draw the Senate's attention to the fact that notice of this motion was given on 9 July 1974 and that subsequent events have made parts of the motion no longer relevant or tenable. I therefore seek leave to amend my motion by the deletion of some words. In paragraph (1)1 seek to delete after the word 'Committee' secondly appearing the words forthwith to present its Report (which was agreed to and in the process of being printed at the date of dissolution) and'. So paragraph (1) would read:

That the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, which was functioning immediately prior to the dissolution of the Senate on 1 1 April 1974, be reappointed to enable the Committee to conclude and table the two remaining chapters not at present included in the printed Report.

I pause there to say that the report, which at that time had been printed, was as a result of a special order of the Senate tabled on 1 8 July, and therefore that section of the original motion is no longer relevant. I seek also to omit words from paragraph (4) which reads:

That the Committee present its final Report to the Senate as soon as possible but, in any event, not later than 30 September 1974.

I wish to omit the words 'but, in any event, not later than 30 September 1974'. That, of course, is not relevant now, the date having passed. For reasons which I will advance shortly, in my view it is no longer possible to specify a particular date in the way in which it would have been possible had the Committee been able to be reestablished in early July. For the benefit of honourable senators I should like to make several points in moving the motion.

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack - I think that to formalise that, leave should be granted.

Senator RAE - Thank you, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. I seek leave.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator RAE - Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I also thank the former President of the Senate for his assistance. The history of the Committee is that it was set up with a membership which changed in only 2 ways between its original membership and the membership which would be available today.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Rae, do you intend to move your motion?

Senator RAE - Yes.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You formally move it?

Senator RAE - Yes. I move;

(1)   That the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, which was functioning immediately prior to the dissolution of the Senate on 1 1 April 1974, be re-appointed to enable the Committee to conclude and table the 2 remaining chapters not at present included in the printed report.

(2)   That the Committee consist of Senators Durack, Georges, Lawrie, Rae, Sim, Wheeldon and Wriedt.

(3)   That, in preparing the final 2 chapters of its report, the Committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Select Committees on Securities and Exchange appointed during previous sessions.

(4)   That the Committee present its final report to the Senate as soon as possible.

(5)   That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.

In speaking to the motion I draw attention to the fact that there have been only 2 changes in the membership of those who were appointed to the Committee when it was originally set up and of those who would be available to serve on it today. One was the original Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. He became the President of the Senate and therefore retired from the Committee, and Senator Durack took his place. That was several years ago. Then in May of this year another member of the Committee, Senator Little, failed to regain his seat in the Senate and is no longer available. Otherwise, all of those who have been associated with the Committee, either throughout its period of operation or alternatively, in the case of Senator Durack, for some 3 years of its period of operation, are available. They are the people who participated in the public inquiry which was conducted. They are the people who heard the evidence. They are the people who have unanimously agreed to the report which has been presented.

I think that this Committee showed that it is possible for the committee system to operate, even on a matter which was potentially difficult, in an effective and bipartisan way in presenting a unanimous report. I think it is important that those who heard the evidence and who are familiar with the considerations which have taken place in relation to the Committee's work should be the people who make the judgments, the decisions and the recommendations which finalise the work of the Committee. I remind the Senate that the chapters which are left to be completed were explained in the report which has been presented. The first chapter relates to certain geological assessments and reporting and stock exchange practice involving a company, Queensland Mines Ltd. Also, there is the drawing together of the recommendations, most of which appear throughout the report at various stages of the case study chapters. These need to be drawn together into a final chapter of recommendations. That work still has to be done.

I can inform the Senate that the chapter on Queensland Mines is in an advanced stage of preparation; it being in, I think, its third redraft stage. When the Committee had to cut off its work to enable it to present the report which it has presented, that chapter had reached the stage where it needed redrafting, and the extremely important work of the checking of the facts right back from initial documents had to be undertaken. As I have mentioned, the chapter on recommendations requires drafting and the drawing together of the recommendations which exist. Part of that work- not all of it- had been done. There is no further evidence to be heard by this Committee. There is no new inquiry to be conducted in any way. There is only the continuation of the task which the existing members of the Committee had undertaken and with which they are all familiar.

I suggest to the Senate that it is appropriate, it is fair, and it is in the best interests of both the Senate and of the people whose interests are affected in one way or another by the report, that those who heard the evidence should make the judgments; in other words that those who were involved throughout the period of the inquiry should be the members of the Committee to complete what is very much a final stage of the Committee's work. As I have mentioned, I gave notice of the original motion on 9 July. It is unfortunate that pressure of other business has prevented the motion from being dealt with until now.

Senator Murphy - Senator, doI understand that you are proposing to take out the date and not put any date in at all?

Senator RAE - I will come to that.

Senator Murphy - Even if it is the end of 1 975 or 1 976, in view of the history of the Committee do you not think that it would at least be reasonable to put some finite date in the motion?

Senator RAE - I will come to that. If Senator Murphy has a suggestion I would be quite happy to consider it. I ask Senator Murphy to listen to what I have to say before we take the matter any further.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - Why not take out September and substitute November?

Senator RAE - May I go for a little while and them I will be quite happy to accept any suggestions. The delay in proceeding with this matterand I do not canvass the reasons for it in any way at all- has meant that two of the principal officers who were associated with the work of the Committee are no longer available to assist. I am sure that this would apply to other honourable senators as it applies to me: We have virtually no time that is not already committed between now and the end of the year to be able to engage personally in the work of the Committee which would be involved. Then there are those who have the background history of this matter. There is Dr John Rose whose tremendous assistance and contribution to the Committee is, I think, acknowledged by all members of the Senate. I should like to take the opportunity to pay tribute again to the work which he did for the Committee. He has been keeping himself available to assist in finalising the report but is no longer able to do so. He is due to go overseas, having completed another commitment. He is not available to assist the Committee in the checking, re-writing and preparation of material. There are others who are not available so that it would not be possible with the consistency which I would certainly hope to see- the consistency of those who are familiar with the work of the Committee being applied to the completion of the report- to have anybody having enough time available for several months, until the present sitting finishes, and until people have a little time available early in the new year. For that reason I cut out the date 30 September. It was no longer appropriate and I find it extremely difficult to nominate a specific date upon which it can be completed. However, if the first day of sitting next year was suggested and the Committee was not able to complete the report by then, the matter could be raised in the Senate. I simply draw attention to the fact that whereas at the time I moved the motion, the period from 9 July to 30 September remained as a reasonable assessment for the completion of the drafting work involved and for the Committee to meet and for the printing to take place of the final 2 chapters, I am now not able personally to be as confident as I then felt. Other factors have intervened. Between the time that I moved the motion in July and 1 7 September there was a period when the Parliament was not sitting. I had anticipated that in that time the Committee would be able to proceed with its work. Between now and the end of this session no other time is available. It appears that the only time available will be between the end of this session and the commencement of the next session. I have therefore moved the motion and have made the comments I have made without reference to a specific date. I indicate to Senator Murphy who raised the matter that I would be quite happy if a date was substituted, the first day of sitting next year.

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