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Wednesday, 9 May 1984
Page: 1853

Senator TOWNLEY(5.37) —When the report on plant variety rights was presented both the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources and I made some fairly brief remarks, and I intend to be brief now. Let me make it clear that the Committee had a firm opinion on plant variety rights schemes, except for a couple of Committee members who brought in another report which I am sure will be spoken about shortly. Basically our recommendation was to introduce a PVR scheme into this country. Because of discussions we had within the Committee we did suggest that, before a decision was made to include field crops, the Commonwealth suggest to the States that the Australian Agricultural Council examine the possible impact of PVR on field crop breeding in Australia.

The Committee had a lot of information before it. I joined the Committee when the Australian Labor Party came into office and I was against the idea of having PVR. I make that quite clear. I had pre-formed notions about it. As the witnesses came before us and we read the submissions it became entirely obvious- there was absolutely no worry in my mind at any rate-that bringing in PVR would not only benefit Australia but in particular it would benefit my State of Tasmania. I am sure that there will be other Tasmanian senators who will be speaking about this in a few minutes. I will leave it to them to say just how it will benefit Tasmania. Senator John Watson and Senator Tate, also from Tasmania, were members of the original Committee. I do not know whether both of them will speak to this report but I am sure that Senator Watson will.

I want to mention now the amazing attitude of at least one of the Australian Democrats to this report. After only 10 minutes discussion of the report in the Senate a motion was moved today by Senator Macklin from Queensland which virtually said-I think I am right; if I am wrong I ask Senator Chipp to correct me-that the Democrats will move a motion not to have plant variety rights in this country.

Senator Chipp —We are against multinationals getting a monopoly on them.

Senator TOWNLEY —Sure, and so are we. If Senator Chipp had read the evidence he would know-

Senator Chipp —You would have fooled me.

Senator TOWNLEY —Senator Chipp has not read the evidence. Had he and had any of his colleagues bothered to read the many pages of evidence that were put before us, there is no doubt that they would have come down in a different way from that which they have now. The Australian Democrats have sided once more with the left wing of this country. It is about time that the people of this country realised that it is a case of, if in doubt, side with the left wing. That is what the Democrats do.

Senator Robert Ray —What is wrong with the left wing?

Senator TOWNLEY —What is wrong with the left wing? The honourable senator should ask the people of Australia. He should go back to his taxi. The left wing will be the undoing of the Party that is now governing this country. It is amazing that even before we had had 10 minutes of discussion on this report, in which many honourable senators had some input, we found the Democrats coming into the Senate saying: 'We have made up our minds; we do not need to read it'. None of them served on either committee. The Democrats do not bother to serve on many committees in this place. They are lazy; they do not do their work. They obviously have not done their work in this area. I do not care what they think about me for saying publicly that they are lazy but it is about time someone did . They do not do their committee work. I can say that because I happen to be on three Senate standing committees. That keeps me going. In fact, it keeps me more than going. I cannot go to every committee but at least I read the stuff that is put before me in my own time. The Democrats do not bother to do anything. I think one or maybe two are on standing committees but they are not doing their share in this place. It is about time the people of this country recognised that fact. Where are they all? Here comes one now. I can guarantee that they have not read the PVR material because they would not be so stupid as to have moved the motion which they moved earlier.

Senator Tate —I am supporting you.

Senator TOWNLEY —I mentioned a moment ago that I thought Senator Tate might want to speak about PVR. But these people come into this chamber without having read the information and they move a motion about PVR. Who do they think they are? I was absolutely amazed when Senator Macklin moved that motion today. It was the most petty, stupid and political thing I have ever seen in this Parliament in the 13 years that I have been here. It is about time that some of us said these things and said them a bit more often. It is no good crawling to the Democrats. They just play politics with everything that happens in this place. I was amazed when this motion was moved. I really should not be discussing it; I think I am strictly out of order.

Senator Mason —You say some stupid things.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —No, the honourable senator is in order.

Senator TOWNLEY —The Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats has just said that I am saying stupid things. Let him come to Tasmania and say that I am saying things when we want to introduce PVR that will benefit Tasmania. Senator Macklin said that it would not benefit Tasmania. I am saying-

Senator Gietzelt —Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order. We are supposed to be discussing a report from the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources dealing with plant variety rights. For the last five minutes we have simply been harangued by Senator Townley about his dislike of the Australian Democrats. That is not the issue before the Senate. The issue before the Senate is plant variety rights. I ask you to ask him to keep to the report of the Standing Committee.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —The remarks of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs are correct. I have allowed Senator Townley to range rather widely on the motion moved by the Australian Democrats to the report. I ask him to come back to the question.

Senator TOWNLEY —Mr Deputy President, the Australian Democrats should have bothered to wait to hear a little more argument from those people who knew something about the issue rather than just jumping in. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. The Australian Democrats have been very foolish, doing what they have done.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I ask Senator Townley to come back to the report before the Senate.

Senator TOWNLEY —Mr Deputy President, I request you to ask others not to use my microphone when it is open. That is why we all now have individual microphones in this place. It is not for smart-Alicks from Western Australia to try to use a microphone allocated to me.

Senator Jack Evans —You can speak for a whole 10 minutes without talking to the motion. Is that what you are doing-wasting time so that you don't have to speak too long on it?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I ask Senator Jack Evans not to interject.

Senator TOWNLEY —I hope that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation mentions that that was Senator Jack Evans from Western Australia.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Townley, you have the call. Please go on.

Senator TOWNLEY —The Australian Democrats have again proved how foolish they are , when they are not experts on this matter, by moving a motion. I have spoken for longer than I meant to. Not one of the Democrats came either to the Chairman of the Committee, or to me as Deputy Chairman, to ask any questions about this matter. As far as I know they did not go to the Secretariat either. It is a disgrace. Their moving that motion was a crazy thing to do.