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Merger proposal on track

THE proposed merger of WA’s biggest credit union, the Police and Nurses Credit Society, with Energy Credit Union has met with a positive response from members ahead of the August deadline.

If the merger is successful, the group will amass assets of more than $1.2 billion, ranking the credit union among the top 10 in Australia.

Energy Credit Union chief executive officer Robert Weir said the move was essential if the union was to continue to provide benefits to its members.

“We approached Police and Nurses, the power industry around Australia is outsourcing and downsizing and if you want to continue to offer benefits to members … you just can’t do it with a shrinking base,” Mr Weir said.

The merger will allow the group to achieve economies of scale and further fund technological developments necessary to deliver the best service to clients, Police and Nurses Credit Union chief executive officer Fred Huis said.

“We’re in a situation where we have to adopt new technology for the core banking package and the main back platform to give better service to members. Our members shouldn’t see technology they should just get better technology,” he said

It’s expected the two credit unions will continue to trade under their own brand for at least the next 12 months if the merger is successful.



Law aims to deliver consistent coverage

p Noel Dyson

IT’S official. WA has ceded its corporate regulatory powers to the Federal Government.

The Corporations Act came into being on July 15 and will re-enact the current array of eight separate Federal, State and Territory corporations’ laws as a single Federal law.

Finance Minister Joe Hockey said the new regime would restore the corpor-ations’ jurisdiction to the Federal Court while keeping the jurisdiction of the State and Territory courts.

WA Attorney General Jim McGinty said the constitutional validity of the cooperative scheme of corporate regulation that had operated across Australia for many years had been called into question by recent High Court decisions, particularly the Wakim and Hughes decisions.

The Wakim case invalidated the Federal Court’s jurisdiction to hear matters arising under State laws, meaning it was unable to hear Corporations Law cases.

This meant litigants were forced to have their cases heard in State courts. Previously both State and Federal courts had been able to resolve such disputes.

Doubt was also cast on the ability of Commonwealth agencies such as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to exercise some regu-latory, enforcement and prosecution functions under State Corporations

law.

“Corporations law must be both uniform throughout Australia and constitutionally secure,” Mr McGinty said.

“This is essential to ensure legal certainty while also contributing to business efficiency and a better enforcement regime.”

However, the WA Government’s view on corporations law change was not always so cooperative.

Former Attorney General Peter Foss was opposed to some aspects of the change over.

He wanted an amendment to the law to restore cross vesting, which would allow the Federal Court to hold jurisdiction in both State and Federal matters.

He said the changes to the law had not removed the cross vesting problems. To do that would require a change in the constitution, he said.

“It now turns out the effects of Hughes were greatly exaggerated,” Mr Foss said.

“I believe there was no reason to change the situation we had. It was just a grab for power by Commonwealth bureaucrats.”

Mr Foss said the Federal Government had blackmailed all of the States and Territories to sign onto the new law.

“They told us if any State left the agreement, its companies would be treated as foreigners under Australian Corporations Law,” he said.

Opponents of the referral of corporate law to the Federal Government were concerned it would hand powers held by the State to oversee matters relating to industrial relations and the environment when those issues related to the actions of a corporation.

However, the Federal Government already had sweeping powers over both industrial relations and Corporations.

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