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Monday, 16 September 1985
Page: 574

Senator MESSNER(5.26) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

As yet I have not seen the annual report on the operation of the Bankruptcy Act and consequently I cannot make a great deal of comment on it. However, I do note that it is a report for the 1983-84 financial year, which means that it is over 12 months old. I wonder why it is out of date and I wonder also what period it discloses. In recent times figures have indicated that there has been a fall in the number of bankruptcies in this country. That is a trend which everyone in this Senate would support and claim to be a positive one, but without an up to date report it is a little difficult to know precisely the situation for the current year.

Everybody knows how difficult the administration of bankruptcy is, and those people who have had anything at all to do with the administration of affairs under the Bankruptcy Act understand the problems and limitations of the Attorney-General's Department and of private trustees in handling the affairs of bankrupts. Not only is it an emotionally difficult time but also there are considerable gaps in the availability of information and knowledge about the affairs of bankrupts prior to their sequestration. This presents many difficulties for both creditors and debtors who are endeavouring to find out exactly what their positions are in dealing with bankrupts subsequent to their entering into the state of sequestration. I raise that point merely in passing. There has been in the past some complaint about the administration of estates, and there has been a great deal of difficulty in that area. I do not mean in any way to criticise the operation of the administrators in their most difficult task, but the Government ought to review this area constantly as there does appear to be some difficulty in administration, as evidenced by the fact that this report is so far out of date.