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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1920

Mr JACOBI (HAWKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I address my question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Treasurer. The question' relates to the crucial need for Commonwealth insurance legislation. May I preface my question by drawing the attention of the Prime Minister to a reply I received from the Treasurer on 7th May 1971 to a question on notice. It reads:

It has not been proved practicable to introduce legislation during the present session, but it hoped that legislation will be ready for introduction during the Budget session.

I ask the Prime Minister:. Is he aware of a report tabled in the Victorian Parliament last week on the . unscrupulous activities of one of 11 insurance companies, declared bankrupt over the past 18 months? Is this due to the ineptitude of the Government in not providing adequate legislation? Will the Minister give an assurance .that the proposed legislation his Treasurer., promised 5 months ago will be introduced into this House during this session?

Mr McMAHON - My attention has been drawn to a report relating to the East Australian Co. Ltd to which I presume the honourable gentleman refers and, also to the action taken in New South Wales by the Workers Compensation Commission in respect of the Fire and All Risks Insurance Co. Ltd in that State and one other company the name of which I cannot remember. It is true that my colleague, the former Prime Minister, gave an assurance that the Government would introduce legislation relating to general assurance. What I want to point out is that the case of the East Australian Company Ltd arose over 12 months ago. It .. was one of the companies in relation to which we were informed and it was a decisive element in making up our minds that there should be legislation on general assurance. I am informed, too, from my personal inquiries that a general assurance Act is an extremely difficult one for the Commonwealth to frame.

Negotiations between the States and the insurance companies are proceeding at an intensive pace. The officials and the parliamentary draftsmen are doing all they can to have legislation introduced at the earliest practicable moment. I have pushed as strenuously as I can to see that the matter is hastened. But I cannot give the House any assurance at all that the Bill will be introduced during the course of the next few weeks. I am trying to see that it will be introduced during this session of Parliament and permitted to stand over until the autumn session.

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