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Thursday, 8 September 1983
Page: 638

Question No. 127

Mr Jacobi asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 12 May 1983:

(1) Is it a fact that registered trustees, appointed pursuant to the Bankruptcy Act, are obliged to carry out certain actions under that Act.

(2) Is it also a fact that, if they fail to comply, the Inspector-General in Bankruptcy must take proper action.

(3) If so, how many (a) estates have been dealt with by registered trustees, (b ) reports have been filed in the courts following investigations made by registered trustees and (c) public examinations have been held by the registered trustees.

Mr Lionel Bowen —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Section 19 of the Bankruptcy Act prescribes the statutory duties of trustees in bankruptcy. The duties which are mandatory include notifying the fact of bankruptcy and ascertaining the assets and liabilities of the bankrupt. The duties which are discretionary include investigating the conduct of the bankrupt, the cause of the bankruptcy and the books of account of the bankrupt ( if this duty is performed it is mandatory that a report on the result of the investigation be filed); summoning the first meeting of creditors if the trustee considers that one should be held; advertising the date, time and place for the public examination under section 69 of the Act if the trustee decides to apply for one to be held; and taking such part as he thinks fit in the examination if one is held. In addition, a trustee also has a duty and responsibility under the Act and at general law to properly administer the bankrupt estate for the benefit of the creditors, and to realise the property and distribute the proceeds in accordance with the standards of care and diligence expected of him by the Courts.

(2) Section 12 of the Bankruptcy Act sets out the powers of the Inspector- General in Bankruptcy. These powers fall into three basic categories; to make such inquiries and investigations as the Minister directs; to make such other inquiries and investigations as he thinks fit with respect to the conduct of a trustee in relation to a bankruptcy or an administration under Part X or Part XI ; and to obtain reports from Registrars, Official Receivers and other officers as to the operation of the Act. However, control over the actions and decisions of a trustee can only be exercised by the Court under sections 178 and 179 of the Act or by resolutions of a meeting of creditors or a committee of inspection .

(3) (a) In the period from 2 November 1981 to 31 May 1983 registered trustees undertook the administration of a total of 1328 bankruptcies under Part IV of the Act as follows:-

NSW & ACT 622 Vic 192 SA & NT 164 Southern Qld 208 Central Qld 9 Northern Qld 4 221

WA 114 Tas 15


(b) Registered trustees filed 52 reports on the results of their investigations made under s. 19 of the Act as follows:-

NSW & ACT 13 Vic 6 SA & NT 5 Southern Qld 10 Central Qld Nil Northern Qld 1 11

WA 16 Tas 1


(c) 66 Public examinations under s. 69 of the Act were held in bankruptcies administered by private trustees as follows:-

NSW & ACT 41 Vic 1 SA & NT 6 Southern Qld 5 Central Qld Nil Northern Qld Nil 5

WA 13 Tas Nil