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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2524

Senator PANIZZA (8.51 p.m.) —I would like to speak about clause 17. I agree with Senator Coulter—clause 17(2) makes me nervous too when I look at it from the point of view of wheat growing. Senator Tambling said that the Grains Council of Australia, the National Farmers Federation and the Wheat Board of Australia have welcomed clauses 17(1) and 17(2). I am a supporter of all three of those bodies but that does not mean I cannot question their judgment.

  Unfortunately, I was not here when the minister was summing up but he has assured me that he answered some of my concerns. However, I am still trying to get a precise definition of a taxon because I want to know how it applies to clause 17(2), especially as regards wheat growing. I have asked the library, CSIRO and a few other sources but I have not been able to get a precise definition.

  Growers and others have expressed to me their concern that clause 17(2) might be able to be used to get rid of a particular variety of wheat. It was put to me in a submission which says:

The 1994 Bill permits farm-saved-seed (s.17(1), but also provides a mechanism for the future restriction of farm-saved-seed of a particular variety. . .

Better brains than I have wrestled with this problem. That is why I have been looking for a precise definition. Senator Tambling said that to take out a taxon is to take out a whole species; that is, it could take out wheat, not just particular varieties of it.

Senator Burns —I have explained all that in my speech.

Senator PANIZZA —Senator Burns can have a go in a minute.

Senator Burns —My speech makes it plain. In my speech I explained what a taxon was.

Senator PANIZZA —That is his definition.

Senator Burns —No, the committee evidence—the committee report.

Senator PANIZZA —I have spoken to people who have spoken to the committee and I have spoken to people who have not spoken to the committee. To take out a particular variety or a particular strain on a whim also affects clause 16(c)—I am referring to where it says `for the purpose of breeding other plant varieties'. Wheat in Australia is made up of various varieties. Some strains, even though they are 20 or 30 years old—particularly mexican dwarf—still come through. To save having a long and detailed argument about this, I would like the minister to give me a cast-iron guarantee—better than the one Mr Kerin gave—that clause 17(2) cannot be used to take out a particular variety of wheat in Australia.