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Friday, 23 November 1979

Senator CHANEY (Western AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I think that both Senator Cavanagh and Senator Mulvihill have taken an unnecessarily doleful view of the fact that the amendment has not been accepted by the Government. It might have been of some assistance to the Senate's consideration of the matter if the Opposition, instead of going off on a frolic of its own, had had some discussion with members of the Senate Select Committee on Science and the Environment. I understand that no one bothered to mention to Senator Jessop the attitude that was being adopted. If one is trying to promote this sort of co-operative approach, then it is a good idea to do it through a process of consultation rather than producing it from one side of the chamber. I draw the Committee's attention to the comments which I made earlier and which referred to comments made by the Minister for Productivity, Mr Macphee, in reply, in the House of Representatives on 7 November 1 979. Those comments can be seen in full at page 27 1 9 of Hansard. I shall quote briefly from it. It will be seen that the Government is not saying that these matters should not be dealt with. Rather it is saying that we have instituted, through the Industrial Property Advisory Committee an examination of the system on a quite broad base and on a basis which the Minister believes takes up these two points. That is an appropriate step. In that context the Senate's calling upon the Government to take the step necessary really is out of time because the Government has already taken steps to get this legislation moving. In that sense the motion is not necessary. Mr Macphee said:

The honourable member for Adelaide raised two points.

These are the points which appear in the motion-

I would like to assure him that each of the points which he has raised will be examined in the course of the inquiry into the patent system which I mentioned in my second reading speech and which I will formally announce ... I assure him that in the light of his contribution today I will look again at the terms of reference and if I do not believe they cover the areas about which he has genuine misgivings then I will make sure that they are rectified. My recollection of them is that they are broad enough to encompass those parts of his amendment which are based on valid concerns.

In other words the recommendations and views of the Senate Committee have not been put aside. They have been put under examination through that Committee, which is not a partisan committee but an expert committee taking in the various interests in this field. I suggest that Senator Mulvihill need not feel that this is the end of the beginning of a new era, but rather that it indicates that if one is to approach legislation of this son by utilising the work done by committees in areas such as this, then perhaps the Opposition might take a little more care to consult with members of the Government who are concerned and who would perhaps be anxious to join in such an effort and to ensure that the suggestions are ahead of the play, and not behind it.

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