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Wednesday, 30 November 1983
Page: 3107

Mr HURFORD (Minister for Housing and Construction and Minister Assisting the Treasurer)(7.45) —in reply-Briefly, in closing the second reading debate on the Insurance Amendment Bill and the Life Insurance Amendment Bill, I thank the honourable members who took part in the debate. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) announced the support of the Opposition for these measures. I suppose we must be grateful for small mercies. But he did also say in the course of his remarks that he did not agree with the fact that we had omitted those provisions which provided for the sale of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation to the private sector. Of course, we have not taken that course of action. One of the promises that we made during the election was that the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation would stay in the public sector. That was strongly supported by the vast majority of those involved in this sphere in the private sector, including such bodies as the permanent building societies. We will pursue the matter to see that the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation continues to give the public service that it has provided in the past.

The second point that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made was that, quite correctly, he would reserve judgment on the matter of extending credit from insurance companies to insurance brokers. He said that he and the Opposition would withhold their views on that matter until the agents and brokers regulations legislation was brought into this House. That is precisely what we on this side of the House as well are doing. We will bring in this legislation, confer with the community generally and reserve our judgment, too, as to whether the provisions of paragraph 15 (1) (d) of the Insurance Act should be included in this sort of legislation. But it seemed to be stupid to-

Mr Howard —It is silly to pass legislation and then consult.

Mr HURFORD —It would be absolutely stupid to do it in that way. Therefore, as the brokers legislation will focus on this same subject of the provision of credit from insurance companies to brokers, we believe that that will be the appropriate time to consider this particular measure. I particularly congratulate the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) for his energy and expertise in this area. He has applied it for the good of the insurance industry , the protection of the insured, and the value of this House. He ought to feel some satisfaction that at last legislation is being brought into this place which follows to a great extent those matters which he has advocated for so long . I certainly value him as not only a good friend but also a close adviser in these areas. I have listened closely to his speech tonight and to the advice he has given. Once again that advice will be closely considered.

He must also be pleased to know that the Insurance Contracts Bill 1983 will be introduced into the Senate either tonight or tomorrow. He will also, of course, have taken note of the fact that the agents and brokers regulations Bill will be introduced shortly. More than that, I hope he has noted that in my second reading speech, in introducing these two Bills, I announced that further legislation must be expected in the next session, the autumn session of this Parliament, when we will take into consideration all the options which he has put before the House and which the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) has put before the House. We will consider ways and means of improving this legislation to look after not only situations such as the disgraceful situation that occurred with regard to Bishopsgate Insurance Australia Ltd, but others also, so that we can do our job in protecting the insured. Not only have I noted other things the honourable member for Bradfield has said; I also congratulate him on managing to make during the debate on these Bills some remarks on national superannuation, which was probably gilding the lily a bit and going slightly wide of the mark. But he did let his ideological slip show a bit by mentioning that national superannuation should be covered to the greatest extent possible by the private sector. That may be his view but I put to him that that is not necessarily the view of the Life Insurance Federation of Australia-LIFA- the body that is involved in private sector life insurance. It wants a national superannuation scheme and this Government, as has been noted today in the Press, is getting on with the job of examining whether or not such a national superannuation scheme can be introduced.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.