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Thursday, 18 November 1993
Page: 3127


Senator McGAURAN (1.19 p.m.) —I will be very brief. I rise to support the comments of Senator Beahan, the Chairman of the Corporations and Securities Committee, of which I am a member. In supporting Senator Beahan in regard to super shares, I should point out that the behaviour of the Australian Stock Exchange in this affair has been odd. It really has been disgraceful. It may be that Mr Murdoch is trying the stock exchange on. That is probably what it is; it is true to form—and true to Mr Murdoch's good form. Maybe we should say good luck to him, but I think not.

  It is the Australian Stock Exchange that is the focus here in relation to Mr Murdoch's request for super shares. Like Senator Beahan, I greatly admire the financial journalists of the Murdoch press, such as Mr Terry McCrann; I follow them closely day by day. However, on this issue Mr McCrann's writings have leaped over principles. On many occasions his logic is twisted when he writes about the super shares. I would have thought we had left behind the 1980s. Apparently we have not even mopped up the 1980s and all the rogues of the 1980s in the public eye.

  It would seem that nothing has been learnt by the Australian Stock Exchange from the lessons of the 1980s, and that is proven by its unseemly haste to open and shut this case on super shares and not to allow greater discussion on the subject. Mr Cox has attacked and criticised Senator Beahan as chairman merely for raising the matter. To that end, the Attorney-General, Mr Lavarch, ultimately has the power—more power than our committee; we can go only so far—to disallow any decision by the Australian Stock Exchange on this matter. The ball is very much in Mr Lavarch's court. I call upon him to step in, following our committee's submission to the Australian Stock Exchange. It would seem that no sooner are we into the 1990s than the Australian Stock Exchange is letting Gordon Gecko back into the boardroom. That will be very much the effect of the introduction of these super shares.

  The Chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange should look at the loss of credibility he has now brought upon himself through the way he has handled this matter and his criticism of the parliamentary committee merely for seeking more details. Quite frankly, I think the Chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange has lost a great deal of credibility and respect in regard to this matter. He should understand that we have a role to play in questioning such regulations in the Australian Stock Exchange, particularly in view of what the public has asked us to do.

   After the shambles of the 1980s, does the Chairman of the Stock Exchange really think we will turn a blind eye to this? He did and, quite frankly, I think his position has become untenable. Either Mr Cox should be severely disciplined by the Attorney-General or he should step down from his position as Chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange. We are not going to turn our backs on the matter of the super shares. I fully endorse what Senator Beahan said, and he has the support of his committee.