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Wednesday, 7 June 1989
Page: 3511


Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(10.57) —I think Senator Lewis is confusing ownership with some other provisions of the legislation. He says the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) has no provisions in its accounts for contingencies. I accept that statement. I have not looked at the accounts.


Senator Lewis —Very little; insufficient.


Senator BUTTON —As an engineering organisation, one would believe and hope that SMEC would carry insurance against risks of the kind to which Senator Lewis referred. I recall that on one occasion in its history SMEC had a substantial claim made against it arising from some work done in Malaysia. Those circumstances are covered normally by similar engineering corporations through insurance. The purpose of the Government legislation is to put SMEC essentially in the same position as a private company. It cannot stand behind the shield of the Crown in respect of any of its operations. Those provisions are contained in the legislation and that is the intention. One of the purposes of the legislation is to see that the Government does not have some contingent liability. I do not think I can add anything to that. Similar legislation has been introduced in respect of a number of government business enterprises.