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Wednesday, 4 April 1973
Page: 1041

Mr JACOBI (HAWKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to a reported financial loss totalling some $17m incurred by member companies of the Alexander Barton group. Is it a fact that the moneys raised to finance the activities of the group drew benefits under the Commonwealth taxation law? In view of the Commonwealth's interest in this matter, will the Minister take immediate steps to have the matter referred for full inquiry by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange?

Mr ENDERBY (Minister for the Northern Territory) - Yes, my attention has been drawn to the matter. It was drawn to it by the honourable member for Hawker who is well known for his concern about matters of this sort and his long-standing interest in them. The reports suggest that about $20m was raised by this group of companies, or some of them, and that something approaching $20m was lost over a period. Of course, when one hears of these reports and one sees them apparently substantially confirmed one has to bear in mind that the money is never lost. In large measure it goes somewhere. In large measure it goes to people who do not deserve it and should not have it and it goes at the cost of people who should have it and are suffering as a result of these types of activities. In large measure I think it also has to be said that this type of behaviour, where it occurs and where it is observed, is a consequence of 23 years of a style of government that allowed this country to have a system of taxation that permits it and encourages it. It is also a consequence of a lack of uniform companies legislation, or any companies legislation with teeth that could stop it and the nonexistence in this country of securities and exchange type legislation and a securities and exchange commission. This Government is determined to remedy those defects at the earliest opportunity. I will do what the honourable member for Hawker has suggested. I will bring the matter to the attention of the Attorney-General and see what can be done about it as a matter of urgency.

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