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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2488


Senator BUTTON —At Question Time on 17 November Senator Archer asked me a question about the Patent, Trade Marks and Designs Office and in particular the fact that the information technology division of the Office had been cut back or abolished. Senator Puplick also made some comments in relation to this matter, which I overheard as I was walking past, in the course of a debate in the Senate. The Australian Patent Office established a technology information branch in March 1984 and has had some success in demonstrating a number of ways in which patent information can be used more effectively.

In a recent report of the Industrial Property Advisory Committee entitled `Patent Information for Smaller Australian Enterprises' it was suggested that patent information would be more useful to Australian industry, particularly to smaller enterprises, if it were packaged with other information such as legal, commercial and financial information and available from central points such as multiplier agencies or government operated development centres. The Minister for Science (Mr Barry Jones) believed this suggestion to be sensible. In view of the necessity of reducing Commonwealth expenditure, the Government decided that the technology information function of the Australian Patent Office would cease. In other words, it was essentially a small exercise in privatisation, of which I understand the Liberal Party once used very much to approve.