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Thursday, 27 March 1980
Page: 1080

Senator EVANS (VICTORIA) - I refer the AttorneyGeneral to the report in this morning's Australian Financial Review that the South Australian Attorney-General has expressed doubts about the constitutionality of the proposed uniform national companies, securities and takeovers legislation. The whole scheme is thought to be in some jeopardy as a result of that expression of doubt. I ask the Attorney: What is the nature of the constitutional doubts that have been expressed by the South Australian Attorney? Is it the belief of the Commonwealth Government's legal advisers that they have any substance?

Senator DURACK - I suppose this question could cover my roles both as Attorney-General and as Minister Representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. The Senate will be aware of the very long, detailed negotiations that have been proceeding between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to a cooperative companies and securities scheme. The first piece of legislation in relation to it has been passed by this Parliament and further legislation is foreshadowed for this session. It has been the view of the Commonwealth and its legal advisers that that scheme has constitutional validity.

The matter will be discussed again at a meeting of Ministers responsible, that is, mostly State Attorneys, and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I understand that some of the concerns of Mr Griffin may well be expressed at that meeting. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs will give consideration to them. Of course, if necessary, further consideration could be given to the matter by me. But at this stage the Government has no reason to believe that the scheme could not or ought not go ahead.

Senator EVANS -Mr President,I ask a supplementary question. Is the Attorney-General unwilling or just unable to give an answer to the first part of my question, which was: What is the nature of the particular objection that has been made by the South Australian Government?

Senator DURACK - I am not familiar with the details of Mr Griffin's concerns. They may well have been made known to my Department. I have not yet had occasion specifically to consider details. I think it probably would be unwise to canvass them at this stage. A ministerial meeting is taking place and will continue tomorrow. I would prefer not to have any public discussion on the matter until we can give it further consideration.

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