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Laws to outlaw sneaky corporate tactics knocked down but not out.

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Senator Andrew Murray

Australian Democrats

Spokesperson for Industrial Relations


25 June, 1998




The Australian Democrats had successfully moved amendments which would ensure companies co uld not use the same tactics as those recently used on the mines and the docks to avoid responsibilities to employees and creditors.


These amendments were overturned when Labor did not insist on their retention in the Wallis package. *


The Australian Democrats therefore moved the amendments again today to the Company Law Review Bill. This time they were voted down by Labor and the Coalition.


Democrats Industrial Relations spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, says it was most unfortunate the Senate did not stand strong on this issue, but all was not lost in the battle against sneaky corporate asset stripping.


“The ALP have stated they will be referring this matter to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Securities for inquiry and report by July 24,” Senator Murray said.


The inquiry will be looking into the very things that the Democrats amendments were addressing, including:


* The trend for companies to declare themselves insolvent in order to avoid paying employees their legitimate enti tlements or in order to avoid meeting their obligations to creditors;

* The trend to use shell companies to avoid the normal contractual obligations arising from the employer/employee relationship, or with creditors,

* Protecting workers’ entitlements in the transmission of businesses;

* Protecting against manipulation of corporate structures to avoid employee and creditors’ rights and entitlements;


“It is deeply disturbing that the government is leaving gaping corporate loopholes for use against employees and creditors.


“Our amendments would have closed the loopholes. However, at least the Committee will keep the matter on foot,” Senator Murray said.


Note:  The Democrats previously proposed these amendments to the Corporations Law via the Financial Sector Reform (Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 1998 early in May, but they were rejected by the government in the House of Representatives and returned to the Senate last Monday.


To arrange comment, contact: Senator Murray on 041 9958038