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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 2243


Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) - I endorse the comments which Senator Wright has made in relation to clause 20. We find the point made under clause 20 that:

(   1 ) The Chairman shall give written notice to the Minister of all direct and indirect pecuniary interests that he has or acquires in any business carried on in Australia or in any body corporate carrying on any such business.

Senator Wrightfurther went on to disclose that sub-clause (2) states:

Where a Commissioner (other than the Chairman) or an Associate Commissioner has or acquires any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any business carried on in Australia, or in any body corporate carrying on any such business, being an interest that could be in conflict with his duties as a Commissioner or Associate Commissioner, he shall, to the best of his knowledge, disclose that interest to the Chairman.

I agree that in the initial stages of setting up this particularly important Industries Assistance Commission the matter of disclosure should go much further than is required in this sub-clause. Surely the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) agrees that it is not right that any person having a direct or indirect interest in any business should advocate to the Government whether there shall or shall not be assistance afforded in the various areas on which the associate commissioner will advocate. Should he sit on the board if he has any interest whatsoever in the areas with which it is dealing? We have heard that it is intended that this Commission should take the place of the Tariff Board. What do we find if we refer to the Tariff Board Act, which, as has been said, has stood up in good stead since 1 92 1 ? We find that section 1 4 of that Act states:

A member shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.

In short, the Tariff Board Act excludes a person from taking part in a particular hearing in which he has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest. In regard to matters contained in clause 20 of this

Industries Assistance Commission Bill- perhaps I may not be quite understanding what the Government intends to bring about- I have some reserve about the aims of the Government. I think that perhaps it is a matter more appropriately to be brought up in discussing Part III of the Bill which deals with the functions and powers of the Commission. However, we are dealing with the manner in which this Government may appoint individuals, the manner in which they may assist industries and the manner in which they may assist industries which run the risk of being attractive to them. I would suggest that those individuals would give a greater impression of disinterest if the Government were to follow the advocacy which was accepted in the case of the Tariff Board Act. I repeat that section 14 of the Tariff Board Act states:

A member shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.

I fully support the comments of Senator Wright.







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