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Wednesday, 19 September 2001
Page: 31064

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (10:52 AM) —I wish, in the consideration of the bill in detail, to provide the minister with an opportunity to respond, if he wishes, to questions which the opposition has. The minister's second reading summing up—the hymn of praise to the government's prudent financial management—is a tad provocative. There was no reference to foreign debt blowing out from $200 million to $300 million. The reference to prudential financial management might not wash quite so well if you are a worker with Ansett or a customer with One.Tel or a policyholder with HIH. One is tempted to talk about the way in which this government has messed up aviation, tourism, insurance, communications, et cetera.

I might be straying a bit from the bill, so I will get back to the questions which are specifically on our mind here. The minister, as he indicated, did not have the opportunity to hear them in the second reading debate so I will go through them. He has flagged the prospect that the government may wish to take these matters on notice and provide us with an answer subsequently. I would not be offended by that. I am happy for the minister to be a conduit for the answer, as he suggests I have been a conduit for the question.

My questions are as follows—and if he does want to say anything about them now he is very welcome to do that. Firstly, what is the cost to government of the RBA providing the registry services required under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act? Secondly, under what terms, including the cost, would another entity be appointed as a registrar under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act, and what measures would be put in place to ensure that the yield on Commonwealth government securities does not incorporate any risk stemming from a non-government entity providing the registry services?

Thirdly, what entities is it contemplated may be appointed to be a registrar under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act? Fourthly, what consultation was there on this bill? Fifthly, what is the interaction currently between the Reserve Bank's registry system under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act and the Reserve Bank's information transfer system? Sixthly, what would be the effect on the Reserve Bank's information transfer system if the Reserve Bank was no longer the registrar for Commonwealth government securities under the act? Seventhly, are there any concerns that the Reserve Bank could not provide a certain and secure framework for electronic transactions in the Commonwealth government securities market? Finally, could there be any effect on the risk attached to Commonwealth government securities from the changes proposed in this bill to the settlement and registration of Commonwealth government securities, and what advice has been provided to the minister or has been received by the minister concerning this issue?