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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 811

Senator MURPHY - My question is addressed to Senator Rae in his capacity of Chairman of the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. I preface it by reminding him and the Senate that on 19th March 1970 the Senate established the Select Committee to report to the Senate; that in September 1971 in a speech to the Senate I suggested that it was then time a prompt report was made to the Senate and that on 9th May this year, after using the expression 'unconsionable delay' to which Senator Rae took some exception, 1 requested that the report be brought down. I ask the Chairman of the Select Committee: Is it not a fact that following the asking of that question in the Senate he assured me that the report of the Committee would be brought down at least by September, that is, this month? Will he tell us the position - whether he intends before the expiration of this Parliament to bring down this report of a committee that was set up some 2i years ago and whether there is any truth in the suggestions that, for some reason or other, the report which was directed by the Senate to be produced to the Senate will not be presented to the Senate before the expiration of this Parliament?

The PRESIDENT - As Senator Rae is in charge of the business of the Senate Committee concerned, I call on him to reply.

Senator RAE (TASMANIA) - I find it somewhat difficult to reply to the last part of Senator Murphy's question in which he asks whether there is any truth in rumours that the report will not be presented to the Senate as directed. Quite obviously this Senate Select Committee has been charged with the responsibility of conducting a very wide ranging inquiry, the terms of reference for which were drafted, I understand - they certainly were moved - by Senator Murphy, I presume with the full knowledge of the very wide ranging extent to which the inquiry would have to be undertaken. I do not know the rumours to which he is referring. Therefore I cannot comment on them. I can assure him and the Senate that the Committee's report will be presented as soon as possible and that the Committee has continued to work diligently on the preparation of its report and the completion of its inquiry.

I suggest to Senator Murphy that the Committee's report has not been delayed in any . way for any purpose, but there have been some times when less interference of a political party nature might have enabled the Committee to spend more time on the preparation of its report. I do wonder whether the report which appeared recently in one section of the Press is the report to which Senator Murphy made reference when he asked me whether some report which had been made recently was accurate. I can only say that there were numerous details which were inaccurate in that Press report.

The final point which I would make is that in assuring the Senate that the Committee's report will be presented as soon as possible, I point out, as I did in May last, that this has been a very wide ranging inquiry in an area in which similar inquiries in other countries have taken several years to complete, lt is the first inquiry of its kind in Australia, at least since the 1939-45 War. It is an inquiry in an area of very rapidly changing types of activities. It is in an area in relation to which some difficulties were experienced by the Committee in obtaining the evidence which was necessary to enable it to report fully to the Senate in the way in which I have no doubt Senator Murphy and the remainder of the Senate would wish it to report.

I remind Senator Murphy that the Committee has already indicated in the statement which I made on 9th December 1971 that it will be recommending the setting up of a Commonwealth regulatory body to supervise the securities industry in Australia. I remind Senator Murphy that in an earlier statement, the date of which I do not recall, the then chairman, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, reported to the Senate that the Committee had found widespread abuses existing within the industry. I take it that those 2 statements to the Senate constitute a form of report to the Senate in relation to the basic questions which have been raised. The full report required by the Senate is being produced and is receiving a very great deal of time and effort from the members of the Committee and its advisers. I cannot indicate, as Senator Murphy and other honourable senators would know, an exact timetable because these matters cannot run to an exact timetable.

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