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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1982

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate) - I moved the original motion for the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. It was a long time ago. As I recall it, I think it was back some time in 1970. Forgive me if I am not exact on the dates. I think there was a storm of protest from Senator Rae when I suggested that the Committee had been guilty of unconscionable delay, and that was back, I think, in 1971- about 3 years ago. Approximately 6 months after that I protested again, but there is a stage at which one gives up protesting about the delay. The matter went on and I think I kept fairly quiet about it. I will not go into the details except to say that the Committee has taken a very long time. Now we are nearing the end of 1 974 and it is suggested that no time limit be placed on the Committee in presenting its report. I would think that there ought to be some kind of time limit. The words as soon as possible' have an elastic meaning in the eyes of this Committee. Already the former Chairman of the Committee is suggesting that the report will not be ready before the beginning of the new term in 1975. 1 have got a feeling that we will be very lucky if we see the report by the beginning of 1975.

Senator Rae - What are you worried about?

Senator MURPHY - I have been wrong on occasions and I may be wrong about this. The inquiry is an extremely important one. It is a great venture into this area. As I informed the Senate today, and as the Senate is aware, the Government is engaged heavily in the work of legislation in this area. Everybody is interested in this legislation. I understand that those in the industry affected want new legislation. The public wants new legislation. In no way can I say that the preparation, the introduction or the passage of legislation should be held up while the Committee considers the legislation.

Senator Durack - I quite agree.

Senator MURPHY -I think the honourable senator who interjected on the other side is not aware of the representations which have been made to me. My understanding is that even the stock exchanges of Australia have made representations indicating that they want the legislation. My understanding is that it is wanted as soon as possible.

Senator Durack - The honourable senator did not hear my interjection which was to agree with what he just said.

Senator MURPHY -I thank Senator Durack. Let me say that this is an area which has been heavily considered by the public. The Committee has made an inquiry into this matter. It is intended to introduce legislation this session- if it can be done- in the hope that it will be passed. The former Chairman of the Committee, Senator Rae, is saying that he thinks that the Committee will not be able to finish the report until the beginning of next year. That may be so.

Senator Rae - I have explained why.

Senator MURPHY - I know Senator Rae has explained why. I am not going to engage in any criticism of the Committee because I do not think that serves any purpose. All I want to say is that the Government intends to press ahead with the preparation of its legislation.

Senator Durack - When is it coming in?

Senator MURPHY - We cannot afford to wait until the Committee has finally completed its inquiry and reported. It is obviously desirable to have the report but if the report cannot be ready in time- it would be helpful if the report were ready in this sessional period- it cannot be expected that the Government will postpone the legislation. We have an enormous public demand for it.

Senator Rae - Nobody is suggesting that you postpone it.

Senator MURPHY - If that is understood, I suppose no one can force the Committee to put in its report at any particular time. All we can do is hope that the words 'as soon as possible' will not be quite as indefinite as they have been in the past. Whatever the result of this determination by the Senate, I wish the Committee well in its deliberations. I trust they will come forth speedily with a report.

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