Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1295 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I have had the benefit of discussions with the Public Trustee and with officers of the Attorney's department. The view of the Public Trustee and of the Attorney and his department is that the amendments are important in allowing the trustee to be more competitive with private trustee companies and to offer better service to those clients that utilise the services of the Public Trustee. The Public Trustee is responsible for administering some $47m in trust funds, including a number of individual trusts worth up to $1m each.

I note that the scrutiny of Bills committee has not made any adverse comment on the Bill. I think it is important that we understand and acknowledge this particular amendment. It does broaden the range of investments that the Public Trustee may make in relation to trust moneys over which she has authority. It does not have any application in relation to trusts in respect of which the trust instrument delineates the range of investments that might be made. I have to say, just as an aside, that in relation to those other trusts and trusts that the Government might otherwise have created for its own purposes, such as the Bruce Property Trust, to the extent that those trusts determine the range of investments that may be entered into, this particular legislation has no impact at all.

The new provisions are designed to act in aid of existing investment powers, subject to any contrary intention, as I have just said, in the trust instrument. I accept the advice of the Public Trustee and the Attorney's officers that the amendments are designed in the main to assist in cases where a trust deed is defective or perhaps just old and out of date and does not reflect modern practices. On that basis the Labor Party, the Opposition, is quite prepared to support this Bill.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.39), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank the Opposition for its support for the legislation. I, too, see it as an important device to facilitate the effective investment of trust moneys by trustees and to ensure that trustees are free from constraints which are increasingly being discarded by jurisdictions around the country. With the exception, I think, of Queensland, the ACT remains the only jurisdiction with these limitations on what a trustee may do. Mr Speaker, I think it is quite appropriate to remove those restrictions.

There is an element of risk in investments of any kind, with very few exceptions perhaps. It is appropriate in an era of low interest rates for trustees to do their best to be flexible and perhaps a little adventurous about the way in which they invest trust moneys. In days of 10, 12 and 15 per cent interest rates it did not much matter if you simply put the money in the bank, but interest rates are much lower these days. It is obviously important, if the value of a trust is to be retained and enhanced, for trustees to have a wider range of options before them to improve on the position of the trust's corpus. That is why this Bill has come forward, Mr Speaker.

I understand that the Opposition has taken some time to carefully consider its position. I am pleased that the Bill has passed its scrutiny. I look forward to the flexibility which this Bill will provide to trustees, being a valuable device in assisting in the operation of those particular devices in the context of the ACT.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .


Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the Canberra region. It is also an important meeting place for other Aboriginal peoples. We respect their continuing cultures and value the contribution they make to life in the ACT.