Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 19 August 1993) . . Page.. 2511 ..
TRUSTEE COMPANIES (AMENDMENT) BILL 1993
Debate resumed from 17 June 1993, on motion by Mr Connolly:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR HUMPHRIES (11.19): I confirm that the Opposition will be supporting this Bill brought forward by the Government. It is a simple Bill which provides that, where a person refers to a particular trustee company in his or her will or codicil and subsequently the name of that trustee company changes, when the administration of that will is begun the reference to the trustee company in its earlier form will be considered to be a reference to the trustee company in its new form, under its new name. Obviously that is a sensible measure. Where company A becomes company B, there seems to be little doubt that the testator or testatrix intended that that particular company would be the one by which his or her estate would be administered, and I think it is a sensible suggestion.
I raise only two questions to which the Attorney might turn his mind. One is the question in principle of, in effect, having the courts change the reference that is made to a company when a particular testator or testatrix has not made a change in the will themselves. I assume that this would operate in such a way that, if a person were to make a will, say, in 1980, the name of the company were to change in 1985 and the person were to die in 1990, the person would be assumed to have meant to refer to the name of the new company. We have a problem here in that the person has been alive from 1985 to 1990, possibly knowing that the company has changed its name, without making any change to the will. There might be some argument whether that therefore rebuts the assumption that the person actually intended that reference to be changed as well. I raise that merely as a point for the Minister to ponder on.
There is also a question of whether the Bill covers all the circumstances that it might appropriately cover where changes occur in the world of trustee companies. It seems to me, looking at the terms of the Bill, that it would not cover the situation where a trustee company merges with another trustee company. That could not really be described as the company changing its name. It is in fact a company taking on another corporate identity with a different company. It also does not deal with the situation of a takeover by one trustee company of another. It may be that the Act should be examined in future for a further amendment. I raise those questions for the interest of the Attorney.
MR CONNOLLY (Attorney-General, Minister for Housing and Community Services and Minister for Urban Services) (11.22), in reply: I thank Mr Humphries for his support for this motion. The points he raised may perhaps be looked at in some future review of this Act. The essential focus of today's amendments is to simplify the process by which a trustee company changes its name. Throughout corporate Australia there have been mergers and takeovers and changes. At the moment, absent this amendment, if a trustee company changes its name or changes its ownership, it is necessary for it, firstly, to get that approved by the Australian Securities Commission. Secondly, there would need to be a specific legislative amendment in this Assembly. The Act in its present form schedules named trustee companies, and it would be necessary for us to amend the schedule every time a company changes its name or its ownership.