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Wednesday, 2 May 1973
Page: 1558

Mr KEOGH (BOWMAN, QUEENSLAND) - Has the attention of the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister representing the Attorney-General been drawn to the recent publicity regarding alleged deficiency in our laws dealing with credit? In line with the Government's intention to use its powers in the Territories, particularly the Australian Capital Territory, to provide models for effective law reform, will the Minister direct his attention to the issue of fair consumer credit laws? Will he particularly examine the recommendations made last year in the report of fair consumer credit laws by a committee of the Law Council of Australia? Will he make every effort to see that new laws of this type act effectively on the operations of supranational companies as well as local financiers?

Mr ENDERBY (Minister for the Northern Territory) - Yes, I am aware of the recent publicity dealing with this problem, which is being given increasing attention. Many of the national newspapers are giving increased space to it. The report to which the honourable member referred is loosely known as the Molomby Report, which resulted from work done at the University of Adelaide. The recently held Australian Finance Conference dealt with the same problem. I think it has to be said that Australian laws on credit come into 2 categories. One is the matter of credit control from the community point of view generally. Another is from the point of view of the protection of the consumer. In recent years much greater attention has been given to the protection of the consumer and the great need for it. Australian laws are fragmented in this regard. We have mortgages, bills of sale, hire purchase agreements. It is becoming increasingly well known that these agreements do not give proper protection. The leading State in the pioneering of reform work in this field is South Australia, under a Labor Government. There can be little doubt about that. I have already arranged for one of my officers to visit South Australia and familiarise himself with the achievements that have been brought about there. Discussions have taken place between myself and the Attorney-General on this subject in regard to the Territories. I hope that we will be able to produce something on this matter in the near future. As the honourable member would know, multi-national corporations pose greater problems and their position has to be seen in a wider context, but this aspect is also under consideration by the Government.

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