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Corporations legislation.

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Joint News Release


The Hon. Daryl Williams AM QC MP

Minister for Financial Services and Regulation

The Hon. Joe Hockey MP

4 April 2001


The Corporations Bill 2001 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Bill 2001 were today introduced in the Commonwealth Parliament.

The introduction of these bills is a crucial step towards securing the future of corporate regulation in Australia, and overcoming the constitutional problems with the current Corporations Law scheme identified last year by the High Court.

In the Hughes decision, the High Court cast doubt on aspects of the scheme’s administration not clearly within the scope of Commonwealth constitutional power. In response to the decision, Commonwealth and State ministers agreed to a reference from the States to the Commonwealth Parliament of the Corporations Law and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act, together with a power to amend those Acts.

Introduction of the Commonwealth bills in the Commonwealth Parliament follows the recent commencement of the New South Wales Corporations (Commonwealth Powers) Act . New South Wales is the first State to enact its reference legislation.

Reference legislation has also been introduced in Victoria. Western Australia and Queensland have indicated that they are working towards references in time for a 1 July commencement of the new scheme. It is the Commonwealth’s sincere hope that South Australia and Tasmania will also join the new scheme in time for it to commence in those States on the same date.

It has been a monumental task to secure the national corporations scheme in the face of very complex

and immediate problems. This reference of power to the Commonwealth is unprecedented in Australia’s history.

The new Corporations Law package includes comprehensive safeguards in the legislation and the new Corporations Agreement against the possible misuse of referred power. All governments accept that the Corporations Agreement is binding. The Commonwealth recognises that the undertakings given in the new Agreement are an integral part of the referral package.

The introduction of the Commonwealth bills today will be seen as an historic step, and a testament to the strength and durability of Commonwealth/State relations in Australia.

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