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Wednesday, 31 March 1965

Senator COOKE (Western Australia) . - I gather from the remarks of the

Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) that the classes of lenders nominated by the Minister in his second reading speech are quite definitely established as the nucleus of organisations which may be regarded as the base approved by the Minister at this stage. Can the Minister tell the Senate whether these institutions have shown the Government an inclination to be approved? In other words, have they indicated that they wish to operate under the Act? I should also like to know whether there will be an opportunity between now and the proclamation of the Act, or immediately upon the passing of the Act, for other lenders to submit their names to the Minister for inclusion in the privileged class of approved lenders? Can any person who believes that he has the right to belong in the approved class of lenders apply to the Corporation for approval? If not, can the Senate be given an indication of the type of impediment that might be experienced by a person asking to be included in the list of lenders approved by the Corporation?

If the Minister can provide answers to those questions it will make it possible to see to what extent lenders who have not been privileged to have consulted with the Government before it decided on the approved class might obtain recognition under the Act. The Bill states that the Corporation shall cause notice of the approval, or the revocation of the approval of a person as a lender, to be published in the Gazette. It appears then that after a person has obtained approval as a lender, for no stated reason and with no statutory protection, the approval which according to the Government is so jealously guarded can be revoked. What right of appeal has such a person? What would cause revocation of approval which has been granted first by the Minister and then by the Corporation? What is the position of persons who have established confidence in a lender to whom they have made funds available for investment in housing, but whose approval is revoked?

These questions need to be answered because I am quite sure there is a wide public interest in money lending. The theory of the measure is good, but more information is needed. At this stage has a borrower a right to approach the Corporation? Up to this stage we have heard well expressed but nebulous and doubtful statements of how the Government proposes to protect lenders. Thousands of cases have occurred where borrowers who feel they have been unjustly treated have lodged appeals under money lending legislation. I refer to cases where borrowers have claimed that money lenders have not obeyed the law, have not complied with the restriction of 15 per cent, maximum rate of interest, or have included in the loan contract conditions which do not comply with the State money lending legislation. Is the lender to be protected to the extent that the borrower cannot make any appeal? Is there any basis upon which the borrower can be protected in respect of interest rate plus insurance premium or in respect of the drawing of documents, all of which might tend to restrict the money market and could involve even an approved lender. Do not let the Minister say that this would not happen, because there is provision to revoke an approval on some grounds. On what grounds? I ask the Minister to give specific answers to the questions I have raised regarding doubtful provisions of the legislation. I ask him particularly to state what would get a man into the privileged class that would gain the Minister's approval. What application would be necessary to achieve this result? I ask the Minister to answer these and the other questions I have put to him.

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