17 March 2021

Today I have written to the Treasurer asking him to split the Government’s Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Bill 2021 in the interests of providing continued regulatory relief during the COVID crisis.

Labor has major concerns with many aspects of the Bill, contained in Schedule 2, relating to changes to continuous disclosure rules for public companies.

We oppose these changes because they represent a permanent weakening of the rights of smaller shareholders to access critical market information.

We believe these measures should be dealt with separately to Schedule 1, which provides for the continuance of special, temporary responses to the COVID crisis including the ability for public companies to conduct virtual Annual General Meetings.

While Labor has concerns about the use of virtual AGMs beyond the end point of the COVID crisis, we recognise the need for this measure during the period in which traditional in-person meetings represent a health risk.

Labor has no desire to stand in the way of extending the measures contained in Schedule 1 over a reasonable period beyond next week’s expiration date.

We do not believe a bipartisan response to the COVID crisis should be held hostage to the Government’s desire to push ahead with the contentious measures contained in Schedule 2 of the Bill.

Labor urges the Treasurer to put the national interest ahead partisan politics, split the Bill and work with Labor.