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Thursday, 25 May 1989
Page: 2719


Senator HILL(4.15) —I wish to speak to the motion that the Senate take note of the Companies and Securities Law Review Committee annual report 1987-88. I do so in the context of being aware that the Parliament is finally taking a much greater interest in the area of corporate law reform than it has for a long time. As honourable senators would be well aware, committees of this Parliament are looking at particular questions in relation to this subject matter. For example, the Senate's own Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is looking at the question of directors' responsibilities; a committee of the House of Representatives is looking at the question of insider trading; and a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament looked in depth at the Government's corporate package, reported back and greatly facilitated the passage of that legislation within the last week or two.

But the body that has principally had the responsibility for advising in the area of corporate law reform since the setting up of the cooperative scheme in 1983 has been the Companies and Securities Law Review Committee. I believe it has done a good job and deserves credit that perhaps it has not been given. Many of these bodies exist in the Commonwealth structure to advise government and advise the parliaments. They perform admirably but are not recognised for the work that they do. This body has been provided with six terms of reference: the corporate form itself; disclosure and standards of conduct of directors and officers; the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Act 1980; appeals under the cooperative scheme legislation; optional incorporation of accounts; and prescribed interests. A number of the Committee's recommendations have already reached the form of legislation. One immediately thinks of the Close Corporations Bill which we passed the other day and which I understand was based largely on a report of this body.

I want to recognise the contribution that this body has made under the cooperative scheme and to indicate that the Opposition is appreciative of the work that it has done, an area of work in which I believe the Parliament itself should have been more active in the past but where it is finally better meeting its responsibility.

Question resolved in the affirmative.