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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 570

Senator POWELL(10.19) —I move:

(15) Page 16, clause 26, at end of clause, add the following new sub-clause:

``(8) Where an objection to the grant of plant variety rights has been lodged under section 20 and the Secretary grants the rights, the Secretary shall, within 30 days after granting the rights, give written notice of the grant to the person who lodged the objection.''.

The Minister alluded to this matter a minute ago. With this amendment, once again, the Australian Democrats are attempting something which the Government attempted when in opposition in the name of Mr Kerin, the present Minister for Primary Industry.

This amendment is part of a series of amendments which we have attempted to make to this legislation and which have been designed to address one of a number of problems we find with this legislation apart from our absolute opposition to the legislation per se. In an effort to minimise its negative impacts we have drawn up this and other amendments to ensure maximum access and information through the process of the granting of exclusive rights to plant material by individuals or corporate interests.

The addition made to clause 26 by this amendment will require the Secretary to give notice to persons who have lodged objections when rights against those objections have been granted to applicants. As I have said, in previous amendments we have attempted to ensure a much wider dissemination of information about the processes. In spite of having been espoused by the Australian Labor Party in opposition, our amendments have not met with the sort of positive response which we could have expected. Certainly the people who look to the Labor Party for this kind of consideration for consumer and public interests would have expected support for the amendments.

The Minister who has been left in charge of this legislation today has already stated the Government's position. I note for the record that the Senate Minister who is responsible for primary industry informed us at the beginning of the Committee stage of this legislation that he simply was not going to participate in the Committee stage. That attitude does less than justice to the import of this legislation. If it is the Government's opinion, as has already been expressed by the Opposition, that it is crucial that this legislation be passed, at the very least one would have expected the responsible Minister to have given more attention to the issues which are raised by this and other amendments in the Committee stage, if only for the reason that there is genuine concern in the community, which we are reflecting in the chamber today.