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Wednesday, 24 June 1998
Page: 4008

Senator MURRAY (6:30 PM) —Parliamentary Secretary, you do indeed put the case very well, because there genuinely is an alternative case. For the assistance of the committee I will quote from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Securities' November 1996 unanimous recommendation. This is what they said on notice of meetings:

The bill proposes to increase the general notice period from the current 14 days to 21 days. Arguments were put that the period ought to be further extended to 28 days to enable overseas investors to cast a more fully informed vote. A 28-day notice period would seem to involve little additional inconvenience for the management of listed companies while providing shareholders, particularly foreign investors who, it was suggested, now own or manage 60 per cent of Australian equities, with a more realistic period of time to arrange for the casting of their votes.

Senator Campbell properly puts the alternative argument. We heard this debate again at the second committee hearing in March. I thought it appropriate therefore to put it before the Senate as an issue of concern in view of the substantial number of significant public companies which are foreign owned and which have such a material impact on our stock exchange and our society. I would be interested to hear the views of the opposition.