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Wednesday, 5 May 1993
Page: 136


Senator BEAHAN —My question is to the Minister for Trade. I draw the attention of the Minister to concerns raised by local industry about the piracy of Australian copyright material in Thailand. I ask the Minister: what is the estimated cost impact of this piracy, and what does the Government intend to do to reverse the current situation and to prevent further abuse?


Senator COOK —That is a very fortunate and timely question. Friday week ago I held talks with the Thai Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr Uthai, on this very subject. Senator Beahan asks me what is the approximate value, in Australian dollar terms, I imagine, of the impact of video piracy, or the piracy of Australia's intellectual property, in the case of Thailand. The estimate I have is a wide-ranging one, somewhere between $5 million and $10 million; it is hard to pin it down. That is $5 million or $10 million that would be better off in the pockets of Australian industry and in the pockets of Australian performers so that the Johnny Farnhams, the Jim Barneses, the Dame Joans, the INXSs and the others who are constantly subjected to piracy can get the payments that they ought to get if people purchase their products in the proper way.

  The United States and the European Community have been very strong in applying pressure, and rightly, on the Thai Government and on other governments to prevent video piracy and the hijacking of intellectual property. We were concerned that, in forcing the commitments that Thailand had given to those countries, there would be some greater leniency with respect to, or less enforcement on, Australia and on Australian copyright. I have obtained an undertaking from the Thai Government that that will not be the case, that enforcement will be uniform and across-the-board. That undertaking was given by the Thai Minister himself, who asked me on behalf of any Australians who have their incomes or their rights affected by this sort of piracy to draw to his attention particular examples of that so that enforcement can indeed be as complete as possible.

  Not only with respect to this matter but with respect to a whole range of other matters the Government has been working, in previous terms and now in this term, on dealing with bilateral issues between countries. When I was in Thailand I took up the issue of industrial property. We were close at that time to concluding an agreement to protect patents, trademarks and industrial design. It is my understanding now that in general terms an agreement between Australia and Thailand has been concluded and needs final clearance and that we can shortly expect to have an agreement between Thailand and Australia which resembles that between Australia and Indonesia to protect trademarks, patents and industrial design. This, of course, complements the actions we are taking multilaterally in the Uruguay Round to try to protect all intellectual property.