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Wednesday, 7 February 2001
Page: 24154


Mr ENTSCH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources) (9:49 AM) —I call today for the parliament's support to change the Australian Corporations Law. The Australian Corporations Law states that persons who have reached 72 years of age may be appointed to a directorship of a public company only with a resolution passed by a majority of three-quarters of its voting members. For people aged less than 72 years election to the position of director of a public company requires only a simple majority.

This is a ridiculous, discriminatory and outdated law that denies organisations the ability to access the wealth of corporate knowledge and experience that older Australians have to offer. It also runs contrary to government policy, which seeks to maximise the capacity of senior Australians to participate in businesses, associations and the wider community. The government has committed $6.1 million over four years to progress the national strategy for an ageing Australia in our 2000-01 federal budget. This initiative is specifically directed towards developing policies that promote the role of mature aged workers and their contribution to national economic growth and maximising the capacity of senior Australians to participate in and contribute to their communities. The aged care minister has often stated:

Too often older Australians are portrayed in stereotypical ways that bear little relationship to the great diversity of experience and the contributions they have made, and continue to make, to their communities.

I agree with the minister that this must be changed.

This matter was brought to my attention by one of my constituents, Mr Terry Huey, who wished to stand for re-election to the position of director of the Royal Queensland Bowls Association, a position he has held for six years. But Mr Huey turned 72 last year and will be required under Corporations Law to secure a majority of three-quarters of all eligible voting members when he contests the position at the association's 2001 AGM. This is in spite of the fact that Mr Huey has a lifetime of experience, is very healthy, has a very strong love for his chosen sport of lawn bowls and has plenty of time on his hands to contribute freely to the Royal Queensland Bowls Association. Mr Huey believes that at the age of 72 he is capable of carrying on in the role of director of the Royal Queensland Bowls Association and that it should be left to the members of the Royal Queensland Bowls Association to decide, based on a simple majority vote. The high bar should not be unfairly lifted for Mr Huey, or anyone else for that matter, simply because he is one year older than he was when he stood for office last year.

While it may be too late to assist Terry Huey in time for this AGM, as it is due in March this year, I am determined to see the Australian Corporations Law changed and changed sooner rather than later to put an end to this discrimination. (Time expired).