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Friday, 20 February 1987
Page: 366

Senator POWELL(11.53) —I move:

(8) Page 12, paragraph 20 (1) (a), line 5, leave out ``commercial''.

This amendment, as did an earlier amendment, comes from the original Nixon Bill. As I said when I moved the earlier amendment, amendment No. 2, I am astonished that the Opposition is not supporting its former Minister. I said that then, but since then I have remembered a newspaper article which I saw not more than a day or so ago in which I noticed that Mr Nixon had said that he would leave the National Party of Australia if Joh took over. So now I am not as astonished as I was that the current Opposition is not supporting Mr Nixon's original proposition. I think the Joh factor is operating in this chamber today.

In the original Nixon Bill the word `commercial' did not occur in this clause. We do not believe that it should be in this legislation either. According to the clause as it stands, an objection to a grant of plant variety rights, which is what this clause addresses, can be put on the basis that the commercial interests of a person would be affected by the grant of these rights. During the passage of this Bill we have indicated that we believe very strongly that there are, and ought to be, far more issues than just commercial issues involved in this legislation. Obviously the Opposition felt the same way, or it would appear it felt the same way, when it proposed this legislation at the time it was in government. I imagine that the fact that the Opposition has now agreed to a much more limited right of people to object to the grant of plant variety rights means that it also holds a much more limited view.

It is fundamental that anybody whose rights might be infringed by the issue of a patent ought to be able to object. I think it would be useful if the Minister could enlighten us as to why the Government does not believe that a range of interests of people could be at risk if this legislation goes through. At present the Bill provides that an objection can be made only if commercial interests are at risk. I ask the Minister why it is that the Government does not believe that other interests which might be infringed-for instance, the environment or some kind of individual right-should not be part of this legislation. This amendment would ensure that such interests are considered.