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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3126

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - Is the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wreidt) able to say whether what Senator Missen said is correct? Are there a number of cases? Who are the persons involved in the cases? Why should these cases be singled out? One hears all sorts of stories and I do not give public credence to any of them but I think that this is one of those areas where enormous difficulties can arise simply because it is thought that someone has been favoured as a result of this action being taken and that someone has been prejudiced. This is the sort of situation which arises once you start picking and choosing as to whose actions in the past are to be regarded as validated and whose are not.

I view this whole exercise with the greatest abhorrence. It is not helped by the fact that the Minister- I say nothing against him personally because I appreciate his position- has said that he does not see how it is possible to overcome some of these problems which may arise. The fact is that the Minister recognises that it is undesirable for people to renege on their obligations. Everyone agrees with that statement. Nothing which I say is to be taken as otherwise. But if people can renege, and do renege, on their obligations, someone will suffer. It may be the party with whom they have directly dealt or it may be some insurance company or some guarantor of the person with whom they have directly dealt who has to pay out in circumstances where he, or the company, has quite honourably taken on an obligation. A guarantor, an insurance company, in those circumstances may well feel that it has adequate redress in the case of a foreign resident or a foreign company by a right of action in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, or some European or Asian country; but if as a result of the Bretton/Woods agreement- the International Monetary Agreements Act- that person cannot enforce his rights in those countries, what we are doing by way of legislation here will prejudice a guarantor, an insurance company, in that position. I understand that there is at least the prospect of one very major situation arising in that area. I am sure that if I am right the facts would be known to the Minister and his advisers. I do not think it is an adequate response to say that nothing could be done about that situation. I do not want to be unduly critical but I think the Government is not playing fair in that situation when with a little more effort a form of words could be devised which would help out these people.

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