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Monday, 14 October 1985
Page: 1172

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(6.14) —I thank all honourable senators for their contributions to this debate. Those contributions have been constructive and useful and are very much taken on board by the Government. Senator Peter Rae's themes have essentially been familiar ones, many of which he and I have been espousing over the years with a common cause in mind. I hope that as we further evolve our approach to companies and securities legislation and regulation it will be possible eventually to get some greater degree of coherence, consistency, rationality and principle into the system than is involved in this continuing system of the co-operative scheme. We may differ in various parts of the chamber as to the extent to which we would like to go in this respect but I think there is a common will to have an effective system of regulation in this area and a common belief that the system we have at the moment is not entirely optimal, not least in the way in which it gives the sole legislative responsibility to the Commonwealth in these matters but does not give the Commonwealth the complete and sole accountability for the operation of the system.

So far as Senator Hill's speech is concerned, I respond only to a couple of points that he made, in particular his suggestion that he would have been inclined to seek amendments based on the Law Institute of Victoria submission to ensure that exempt proprietary companies that have an auditor do not have to lodge accounts under section 275A and that information in annual returns concerning directors can be relied upon for the purposes of section 68A. I simply make the point that it is my understanding that both the matters that he has referred to are in fact picked up in the Government amendments. Although we will have an opportunity to discuss this further in the Committee stage, I believe that the points are well made and have in fact been accepted by the Government. Had Senator Hill had a bit more time than he obviously did to study the amendments that have been circulated, I think he would appreciate that that is so.

So far as Senator Rae's more specific contributions are concerned, he did query whether we need to review takeover laws to see, for example, whether their complexity favours professional advisers at the expense of people actually running companies and producing wealth. The short point I make about that is that the Companies and Securities Law Review Committee has a reference on the whole subject of takeovers which I hope and believe will have regard to the variety of matters that have been adverted to by Senator Rae.

Senator Peter Rae —I was trying to encourage public debate a bit as well, which I think would be helpful to that inquiry.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am indebted to the honourable senator for that intervention. I am sure that his contribution will encourage debate, as it always does on these occasions. The other substantial point that I think he made was about a delay from the National Companies and Securities Commission in bringing forward proposals on investment advice. I am able to inform him that the NCSC is planning to seek public comments on its proposals this month. So it will be a matter of waiting only a few more days before this stuff is in the public domain where it clearly deserves to be.

There are many other points that could be made in a debate of this kind which is necessarily wide ranging. However, it appears that there is no need for me to make any particular points about the actual substance of the legislation that is before us. I am indebted to honourable senators for their support for the measures that are now before the chamber.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bills read a second time.